Goodbye DRM?Mikey 4 comments
If the rumours turn out to be true, online sales giant Amazon may be about to take a huge slice of Apple pie from the already crowded music download market.
Last week Amazon sent contracts to recording labels with the intention of launching an online service within the first quarter of 2007.
So what will set apart from the current market? They are only interested in DRM (Digital Rights Management) free mp3's and will offer a variable pricing structure.
To the uninitiated, DRM protected content restricts how you use it, typically only allowing you to transport music to a limited number of devices and computers. Without DRM you can limitlessly transport music from your PC to anywhere, including your mobile phone, PDA, other computers, and even an iPod, essentially relinquishing control of the music to the people who are paying for it.
This also means there will not be a need to use the DRM controlled iTunes anymore, although Apple will still have a larger collection of titles when the Amazon service launches and it may be a while before they are able to catch up.
The studios will also get something that Apple has never budged on - variable pricing. Until now Apple have not had a reason to change their stance, but when the same music starts appearing on Amazon at lower prices you can bet that will change.
In addition to DRM free content, by only offering the mp3 format Amazon will end all compatibility issues between different players and platforms.
As a person who buys nearly everything online this is exciting news. But like many others I still prefer to purchase my music on CD because of the DRM restrictions. Amazon will make my dream of being fully sustainable online one step closer to reality. If I could just convince my partner to let me also do the grocery shopping online I will be living the dream :-)