Last Updated Aug. 12, 2011
All iPods, iPhones, and iPads
Works with existing Amazon accounts
Requires additional software
No iOS aps
Video isn't iPod/iOS compatible
Songs: US$0.69 - $1.29
AmazonMP3 does essentially just what you'd expect it to-–it offers the ability to buy and download single songs and full albums using Amazon’s standard interface and your Amazon account. If you already like Amazon's interface, you'll like this store. If you find the interface a little cluttered and sometimes hard to use (as I do), you'll have the same opinion here.
The overall process of searching and browsing for music, buying it, and adding it to iTunes is fairly smooth and fast. The checkout process is Amazon's standard, multi-step process that isn't as streamlined as iTunes', but once you're through that, downloads of songs--even at the larger file sizes that 256 kbps encoding creates--are quick. In my testing, a 16.5 MB song only took about 20 seconds to download both the song and the album artwork.
Amazon's store has a couple of points of differentiation from the iTunes Store, both good and bad. They are:
- AmazonMP3's catalog of music is a bit larger than that offered by iTunes
- Amazon regularly offers sales on songs and albums, which iTunes doesn't
- While Amazon offers an app store for Android devices, it doesn't have iOS-compatible apps, which the iTunes App Store does
- Amazon doesn't offer a podcast directory to compete with iTunes'
- Amazon's video rental and sales store isn't compatible with iPods and iOS devices
- AmazonMP3 requires installing the AmazonMP3 Downloader program that handles downloads and adds songs to iTunes automatically. This isn't quite as smooth as iTunes' integration, and having to install a new program is a little annoying, but the program works well.
Another option that Amazon offers that Apple doesn't is its Cloud Player, which stores all AmazonMP3 purchases in a web account that makes music available for streaming via nearly any browser. Apple's iCloud is, in theory, the competition for this, but it doesn't offer the compelling web-streaming option.
The Bottom Line
AmazonMP3 is not perfect, nor is it quite as refined as the iTunes Store--yet. The AmazonMP3 store continues to be one of the most serious competitors to iTunes. And while AmazonMP3 isn't quite on par with every feature of the iTunes Store, the competition it offers can only be good for consumers.