I just downloaded my first Amazon download for 89 cents! I had to download a small downloader application first (a beta).
I had to quit Safari to complete the install. Luckily I didn't have my usual massive number of tabs open, but heads up on that. The downloader put the song right into iTunes for me. This is quick and easy!
I am glad to see Amazon making a credible entry into the music downloading business to provide competition to Apple's iTunes. I'm even happier to see they are doing a DRM-free, relatively high-quality offering. They have two labels, Universal and EMI, so far.
Like anyone, I prefer to skip DRM. Now I can get a lot of music without DRM at a reasonable price. I intend to buy single songs at 89 and 99 cents per song. This deal beats Apple's 1.29 cent price for their DRM-free songs.
Apple has the edge in two areas. First, the iTunes store is way better overall. But, Amazon has better search and I hope that means Apple will give us some decent search to augment their current strengths. Second, Apple uses AAC encoding and Amazon is using MP3. AAC gives you a notch better quality at the same size.
So, Apple's DRM-free music is a little bit better and that difference would probably be noticeable on high quality headphones or high-end speakers. There is one caveat, though, which is that MP3 is supported everywhere and AAC is only supported on some players. If you are an iPod user, you'll be able to take advantage of AAC.
I will continue to use the iTunes store and also check out the Amazon store in some detail. I will report back on my experiences. Right now I want to support the Amazon DRM-free offering, so when I find something I want on the Amazon store, I will purchase there.
When I find a single song on iTunes that I want, I will just buy the DRM-free version there and pay the extra 30 cents. It isn't worth the trouble to go back and buy it on Amazon and I get the small AAC quality advantage to boot.
If there is no DRM-free version on iTunes, I'll buy there only if I don't think the DRM-free version is available on Amazon. DRM-free takes precedence because the convenience later in moving the song to different machines will make up for the inconvenience now of having to find the song again on Amazon.
Keep in mind that Apple wins either way. More good DRM-free music will drive iPod and iPhone sales. Besides, the competition will inspire Apple to do better work.
Finally, we want legal DRM-free music. Amazon, by joining the DRM-free side of the argument, will pressure the other labels that are holding out to open up their music too. This is good!