Amazon’s DIY Music Attempt to Compete with Apple

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So, news came out less than a couple of hours ago that Amazon is going DIY, creating (possibly branding) their own MP3 Player and selling it through their own subscription service. For Apple, this is yet another thing to worry about: I bet they’re not at all happy. But for us music lovers, this means another choice — whether it’s a positive or a negative I can’t say.

Let’s face it, what Amazon does, they do it right and while their product doesn’t revolutionise much, it does have its moment and doesn’t witness utter failure, unlike as another company I know of did with their video store. But, before I drill down with my predictions, here are some quick facts:

  • They are going to do a portable music player
  • …and an online music service.
  • Their music store will be subscription-based.
  • The cost for the music service is unknown, but predicted to be anywhere from $5 to $15/per month.
  • Here’s a shocker: It will come with DRM that, when someone stops paying for the service, will disable any copies of all the music they’ve downloaded in the music player.
  • This is not mentioned, but due to the DRM fact mentioned above, I suspect to use their service will require their music players inorder to use it. So, if you have an iPod or another MP3 Player you won’t be able to use the store. This is bad, bad. Who cares what player someone uses? Aren’t they trying to just sell music and get a commission? Someone isn’t going to buy a music player just to use their service. Or would they?
  • Such fee-based online music stores have been attempted and are still in place by RealNetworks, Napster, Yahoo!, AOL, etc. and have attracted roughly 2 million customers, tiny compared to iTunes’ multi-millions.
  • They haven’t mentioned the name, but I suspect it will be something like “Amazon Music Store.”

So, which this seems like a yet-another attempt by a dotcom to boost their revenues (Amazon did fall a huge 11% in their stocks recently), I think it might carry some weight coming from Amazon. I may be proved right, or wrong, but in any case I know for a fact that Amazon isn’t going to be one of those companies that fails majorly doing something like this.

Of course, there are bad bad things about this that (a) I do not agree with and (b) Is plainly stupid. Where should I start? First of all, the fact that it comes with DRM that, if someone cancels their subscription, all their music is terminated from the player. No! Where have you been for the past year? Consumers for a fact hate DRM. It’s a privacy invasion. It’s crap. And if someone thinks I’ve got this way out of context and that it’s not DRM, have a read for yourself:

Unlike Apple, which sells songs for 99 cents each, Amazon will offer a service that charges a monthly or annual fee to customers, who will have the right to fill up their music players with as many songs as they like, the executives said. When they stop paying the fee, the music on the player will be disabled.

See what I mean? No, Amazon, no. A good company doesn’t ‘disable’ music on the player when someone no longer likes them, but is supposed to say, “ok, what could we have done better to keep that customer?” If Apple starts doing this kind of a thing, I bet you piracy would be on a high like never before.

Secondly, why should someone use Amazon’s player? Just why? When you’re going to go around deleting or ‘disabling’ music when someone no longer uses your service, are some dotcom companies that made it through ‘the days’, are doing a concept attempted by many many others, and when one can merely see your so-called transparent business model, what makes you better than others that not only is someone going to pay 300 or whatever it is freaking dollars to buy your player but also $5 to $15 per month for the music?

On one hand, Amazon’s scheme seems useless, crap, bad, unneeded, and on the other hand because I have faith in them, I can’t say that it will be. Well, we’ll see in a few months when the service launches.

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