Found at Ars Technica:
Amazon has launched a public beta of its long-anticipated digital music download store, offering more than 2 million songs as MP3 files. Those who have been paying attention to the digital music business can probably guess what’s included: tracks from EMI and Universal Music Group, music from another 20,000 independent labels, and $0.99 downloads…
While download stores might have gotten away with encoding music at a 128kbps constant bit rate a year or two ago, that’s not going to fly today, and Amazon knows it. Most tracks are variable bit rate 256kbps MP3 files, though the occasional track is encoded at constant bit rates. Large, high-quality album art comes embedded in each file…
The default song price is $0.99 per track, but the top 100 songs are only $0.89 apiece, and the top 100 albums go for $8.99….
The prices are still a bit too high for me to give up physical CDs anytime soon, but this is definitely a step in the right direction. Apple has made some steps in the right direction with their “iTunes Plus” program, but Amazon’s got the better deal right now:
- Cheaper tracks ($0.89/0.99 vs $1.29)
- MP3 vs. AAC (More compatible, virtually identical quality)
- No need to use another application (i.e. iTunes) to download
It will be interesting to see where this goes – more competition is good, and Amazon’s definitely a credible competitor.