Thursday, September 27, 2007

Amazon MP3 Music Store - Not yet ready for prime time

I am an avid IPod user and as such, have been an extensive user of the iTunes application.

Needless to say, I really like the overall user experience and depth of the iTunes music catalog.

Having said that, I've been anxiously awaiting the launch of Amazon's MP3 music store. Why? Because I think Apple needs a little competition in this space. Its good for us consumers.

Amazon launched their service this week, with a BIG announcement - they're selling DRM free songs at an unheard of price of $0.89 Wow!!

Sounds pretty good. So I decided to take it for a spin. Now, I prefer Classic Rock to the Rihanna's and J.T's of the world. I search for "Iron Maiden". Given Amazon's collection of 2million DRM free songs, I expected to see search results that included some of Maiden's all time great songs - Two Minutes to Midnight, Number of Beast, Run to the Hills, to name a few.

Sadly, I was disappointed. Here's a screen capture of the Iron Maiden songs available for purchase and download.

Interestingly, they've got a really good collection in their CD library. And hence, they resort to "recommending" CD purchases. Not what I expected from Amazon.

Take a closer look at the "Price" column in the above image. $0.99 per download. What happened to the $0.89 DRM free music?!!

Next, I search for "The Beatles". Given that EMI is one of the labels supporting this venture, I expected the entire Beatles catalog to be available for purchase and download. Lo and Behold, I was once again being asked to purchase CDs if I wanted the really good stuff.

Alright, so maybe they decided to skew younger, and acquire the more "popular" tracks. Let's search for "Rihanna". Take a look at the search result:

No downloadable tracks.

So after spending about 30 minutes searching for music I've decided to give up on Amazon.

What a shame! It would have been nice to have an iTunes alternative; and in time, I am sure we will have a number of options. But right now, I don't see how Amazon's service can even pretend to challenge Apple and its iTunes service.

In the spirit of providing balanced opnions, here's a nice article by David Zeiler of the Baltimore Sun.