Amazon.com has announced they are going to provide a music download service later this year featuring songs without Digital Rights Management. With this move, Amazon joins Apple in selling DRM-free music that has no restrictions and can play on any computer and any media player. The press release mentions over a million songs from 12,000 record labels. Interestingly enough, the one label quoted is EMI, the same company that Apple launched DRM-free iTunes with. The press release does not mention pricing or the quality of the songs.
Amazon would only do this if the online retailer believes it can provide something that iTunes can’t. Will the songs be cheaper? Encoded at a higher bit-rate? Will Amazon’s store have exclusive bands and albums that iTunes does not? Will MP3s be bundled with the purchase of an actual CD? My first impression is that Amazon is late to the game and can’t possibly compete with iTunes. But then again, all the details are not revealed. Maybe Bezos et al. will surprise us.