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February 19, 2006

Amazon takes on IPOD

Topics: Technology

ipod.jpgRecent reports suggest that Amazon.com plans to challenge Apple's iPod in the digital music market, now the domain of Apple Inc., Yahoo! and RealNetworks. I'm not ready to sell my Creative Zen Nano but at first glance was ready to welcome another player who promises a unique subscription service to a massive music library. To my disappointment, I've found that the greedy marketing geeks at Amazon are preparing to launch their service based around a heavily-subsidised, and Amazon-branded portable music player, which will be sold with songs already preloaded on it. Users will pay a monthly subscription to Amazon for unlimited access to its music library. The problem is:

Unlike Napster, Yahoo, Microsoft and other providers that rely on WMA-DRM compatible 3rd party players to play music purchased from their services, Amazon plans will use Apple's approach by using their own proprietary DRM technology in their players such that their players will only work with its music service and vice versa. This also means that consumers will know what can play their music and obviously what music can be put on an Amazon branded player.

Unfortunately, if Amazon's music service and players turn out very successful, they could end up killing off independent music services, since their music will not play on an Amazon's proprietary player.
Imagine if Blockbuster Video began renting and selling DVDs that could only be viewed on their private brand of players. Or, if each retail music store decided to start selling their own non-standard CDs that can only be played with their own store brand's players and vice versa, well this is exactly what DRM is doing and just one of the major problems DRM is causing to the digital music download market.

Posted by tim at February 19, 2006 10:33 PM



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