Amazon’s New MP3 Store Challenges iTunes Dominance
January 17, 2013

Amazon’s New iPhone-Friendly MP3 Store A Formidable Challenge To iTunes

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Apple is currently facing several challenges from several competitors. Google´s Android may be their most immediately recognized foe as it becomes an increasingly worthy iPhone competitor. Meanwhile, Samsung and Apple continue to go toe-to-toe in courtrooms across the world, battling over sundry patent claims. Not to mention that Seoul-based company´s latest line of Galaxy products have also become proper iPad and iPhone competitors.

Then there´s Amazon. While they´re relatively new to Apple´s turf, they´re perhaps the most frightening of competitors. They´re just crazy enough to sell their products at zero-to-slim profit margins as they continue to push into Apple territory. And the world´s largest online retailers announced their latest gutsy move today, unveiling a new iPhone and iPod Touch friendly version of their MP3 store. (No iPad support yet at this time, sadly)

It´s never been entirely difficult to access Amazon MP3s on your iDevice. Amazon has been offering their Cloud Player app for some time now, bringing Amazon tunes stored here to iOS. Otherwise, users would have to download the tracks to their computer, bump them into iTunes and then move them onto their device — nothing too terribly challenging for most tech-savvy users.

Today´s announcement, however, eliminates even this small workaround, making it even easier for iPhone and iPod Touch users to fork over their money in exchange for MP3s. This is where it gets dangerous for the Cupertino-based megacompany: Buying MP3s from Amazon is now just as easy as it is on iTunes. This ease of use has long been a strong advantage in Apple´s favor.

“Since the launch of the Amazon Cloud Player app for iPhone and iPod touch, a top request from customers has been the ability to buy music from Amazon right from their devices,” said Amazon Music´s Vice President Steve Boom in a press release.

“For the first time ever, iOS users have a way do that — now they can access Amazon´s huge catalog of music, features like personalized recommendations, deals like albums for $5, songs for $0.69, and they can buy their music once and use it everywhere.”

These words should send pangs of fear through Apple´s collective heart.

In addition to offering up all the special deals Amazon customers are already accustomed to, the new iOS friendly Web site gives personalized recommendations based on previous purchases. This is one more advantage in Amazon´s favor, as their recommendations are often better than Apple´s Genius recommendations, at least in this writer´s experience.

The iPhone-friendly website and Cloud Player app duo work just as well as Apple´s iTunes and Music app ensemble, allowing users to either stream their music through the app or download it directly to their device.

What´s more, when songs are purchased from Amazon, they are made instantly available in the app. These songs are stored for free, courtesy of the Cloud Player. Of course, Cloud Player is an even more daunting weapon in Amazon´s arsenal. Customers can store all the music they purchase via Amazon in their cloud for free — and they´re even allowed to load up an additional 250 songs from their PC. For $24.99 a year, customers can add 250,000 of their own songs to the cloud. Apple´s iTunes Match costs the same, but offers a hard-lined cap at 25,000 songs, regardless of where you buy them.

Though Amazon´s music library is just a bit short of Apple´s 28 million tracks, it will still be very interesting to see how Apple responds, or if they choose to respond at all.