Public beta underway today.
‘Amazon MP3’ is the (perhaps obvious) choice of name and, as previously reported, will sell ”only” DRM-free music. 2m tracks from 180,000 artists over 20,000 labels will be made immediately available and – in a blow to Apple – will come not just from DRM-free pioneer EMI but also Universal.
All tracks will come in the higher encoded 256kbps bitrate and in a further attack on iTunes sell for just $0.89 or $0.99 a track (all ‘Top 100’ tracks will retail at the lower amount). On top of this full DRM-free albums start from only $4.99, with chart breakers coming in at $8.99 and rarer works at $9.99.
Key most to Amazon’s assault on the digital download space is its message that all its music will work with iTunes and Windows Media Player and can be played back on any device (unlike iTunes which requires AAC codec support) meaning iPods, Sansas, Zunes, Gigabeats, ZENs, Walkmans and all manner of smartphones and regular handsets are going to be able to dive straight in.
Has Amazon come up with the best iTunes alternative yet? It’s early days (with some noticeable artist gaps at present) but with the muscle of Amazon behind it there’s reason to be optimistic…