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Amazon expanding digital music sales without eating at iTunes

post #1 of 40
Thread Starter 
Much of Amazon's early success in digital music sales has come by way of customers who have never tried Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store, a sign of broader growth potential within the music download business.

NPD, one of the leading market research firms, said in a report Tuesday that just 10 percent of Amazon MP3 customers surveyed in February indicated that they had previously purchased music through iTunes.

"The fact that Amazon's early growth does not appear to be at the expense of Apple iTunes is a healthy indication that the digital music customer pool can expand into new consumer groups who have not yet joined the iTunes community," remarked analyst Russ Crupnick.

Though having launched just six months ago, Amazon MP3 recently leapfrogged Wal-mart to become the number two purveyor of a-la-carte music tracks downloads in the US, behind iTunes.

Among the service's selling points are DRM-free tracks from all the major recording labels, a higher bit rate for digital files, and a price-per-download that is often lower than iTunes.

Still, Amazon has quite a ways to go before catching iTunes. The Apple download service does approximately 10 times more business on a unit basis than Amazon MP3, but it's the differences in the consumer demographic profiles of the two stores that's signaling a broader landscape for digital music downloads, according to NPD.

The research firm's initial consumer surveys found that 64 percent of the Amazon MP3 unit sales were traced to males compared to 44 percent for iTunes. Amazon MP3 showed the most strength among young adults aged 18 to 25, but only 3 percent of its customers were teens aged 13 to 17.

In contrast, the iTunes Music store sold nearly a fifth (18 percent) of its music to teens and also sports a healthy franchise in gift cards among that same demographic, while Amazon has a relatively small base of teen CD buyers.

"While it's still very early in the game, there's no evidence that Apple customers are deserting iTunes for a new alternative, either because of price or DRM restrictions," Crupnick said. "Amazon may simply be opening new markets from their existing consumer base and introductory promotions."

NPD says its monthly consumer tracking measures unit sales of a-la-carte downloads from services like iTunes and Amazon MP3, but does not track subscription music downloads or revenue from eMusic and other subscription music services.
post #2 of 40
I wonder if it's within Apple's power to release all of their music as 256KB/s, even though it's not within their power to release DRM-free music unless they've been contracted to do so.

If the can do this, I don't see why they don't. It would help to attract more of those "males", to whom higher bitrates are important.
post #3 of 40
So Amazon is selling more music than eMusic? Really? Or, does the eMusic subscription model not count in NPD's data tracking methods?
post #4 of 40
I wonder how many of these Amazon customers also have an iDevice, which is Apple's bread and butter.


Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

I wonder if it's within Apple's power to release all of their music as 256KB/s, even though it's not within their power to release DRM-free music unless they've been contracted to do so.

From the way the articles have read over the years, it seems that Apple only has control of the pricing, not the bit rate or DRM. If they did, I too would have thought they would have upped the quality.

Though, if they do make 256Kbps the new minimum at the iTS, would they then have to half their iPod capacity listings or could they still say "x many songs at 128Kbps"?
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post #5 of 40
Apple has and will argue that 128Kbps AAC is comparable to 256Kbps MP3, therefore no need to up the quality of the songs or change the capacity rating of the iPods/iPhones. Whether is it true or not is a different story.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I wonder how many of these Amazon customers also have an iDevice, which is Apple's bread and butter.




From the way the articles have read over the years, it seems that Apple only has control of the pricing, not the bit rate or DRM. If they did, I too would have thought they would have upped the quality.

Though, if they do make 256Kbps the new minimum at the iTS, would they then have to half their iPod capacity listings or could they still say "x many songs at 128Kbps"?
post #6 of 40
Given the various environments I listen to music in, bit rate not as important to me. And I'm too short-sighted to care much about being locked-in to the Apple world of music. So it all comes down to ease of use and being a good experience for me right now. And Amazon's store, while technically very easy to use, is just not a very good customer experience. I won't bore anyone with details, since everyone has their own opinion if they've used it, but as a guy who spends his work-life measuring and improving customer experience, my list of things broken about the Amazon store is extrensive (yes, I do wish I could leave my work at work when I turn into a consumer, but alas...).

Bottom line: I believe a stronger, better Amazon e-music store is good for me as a consumer. Anyone else? Am I being blind to reasons we should root against them?
post #7 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFatWookie View Post

Apple has and will argue that 128Kbps AAC is comparable to 256Kbps MP3, therefore no need to up the quality of the songs or change the capacity rating of the iPods/iPhones. Whether is it true or not is a different story.

I don't recall reading Apple claiming that. AAC is a better codec that MP3, but there is no question that a 256Kbps MP3 contains more uncompressed data than a 128Kbps AAC file.
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post #8 of 40
Apple really needs to get DRM free versions of the stuff Amazon has DRM free as well as the higher bitrate on everything. It's the main reason I have bought practically nothing from iTunes for a long time. Although the Amazon stuff is only higher bitrate than SOME of the iTunes stuff, and even though they match the bitrate of the iTunes plus stuff, the codec isn't as good.

Quote:
Originally Posted by csimmons View Post

So Amazon is selling more music than eMusic? Really? Or, does the eMusic subscription model not count in NPD's data tracking methods?

If they use a subscription model, isn't that rental and not sales? If I don't get to keep the music after ending the subscription, that's not really buying it, is it?
post #9 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by csimmons View Post

So Amazon is selling more music than eMusic? Really? Or, does the eMusic subscription model not count in NPD's data tracking methods?

According to the article it doesn't appear that emusic is tracked.

I have an emusic account; so I purchase music downloads via iTunes; Amazon; and emusic.

...and I still purchase compact disc's (my preferred choice)!
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post #10 of 40
Well, they have never made the claim that 128Kbps AAC is = to 256Kbps MP3 that I am aware of, and in fact aren't thier + tunes at something like 192Kbps AAC? At any rate when iTunes first started they used to claim that AAC was superior to MP3 and so it was higher quality at the same 128Kbps bit rate. Windows tried to make the same claim about WMA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't recall reading Apple claiming that. AAC is a better codec that MP3, but there is no question that a 256Kbps MP3 contains more uncompressed data than a 128Kbps AAC file.

I have used both services and both work well at integrating songs into iTunes library. I do think iTunes will be in trouble if they don't figured out how to negotiated DRM free content with the rest of the record labels.
post #11 of 40
We don't have the choice of using the Amazon music store in the UK.

Remember that it is a USA only service at the moment, so in the UK I will stick with iTunes.

Ian
post #12 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFatWookie View Post

Apple has and will argue that 128Kbps AAC is comparable to 256Kbps MP3, therefore no need to up the quality of the songs or change the capacity rating of the iPods/iPhones. Whether is it true or not is a different story.

Dude, if you think you would be able to tell the difference between a 128Kbps & 256Kbps MP3, check this site out & you will see how wrong you are http://mp3ornot.com/
post #13 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

Dude, if you think you would be able to tell the difference between a 128Kbps & 256Kbps MP3, check this site out & you will see how wrong you are http://mp3ornot.com/

cool, and if anyone can just wait a few years ... then they won't be able to
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post #14 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheFatWookie View Post

in fact aren't thier + tunes at something like 192Kbps AAC? At any rate when iTunes first started they used to claim that AAC was superior to MP3 and so it was higher quality at the same 128Kbps bit rate. Windows tried to make the same claim about WMA.

iTunes plus is 256 AAC, and AAC is superior to mp3 at the same bitrate. But that doesn't mean that AAC 128 is better than mp3 256.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

Dude, if you think you would be able to tell the difference between a 128Kbps & 256Kbps MP3, check this site out & you will see how wrong you are http://mp3ornot.com/

Nice idea, but that's a terrible choice of clips to use for comparison - artifacts are most obvious with things like cymbals. The difference is minor in that case, but with lots of material it's extremely obvious.
post #15 of 40
Hmmm... I never made any such claim.

Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

Dude, if you think you would be able to tell the difference between a 128Kbps & 256Kbps MP3, check this site out & you will see how wrong you are http://mp3ornot.com/
post #16 of 40
I wasn't sure if it was 192 or 256, but glad it is the latter. My point is that Apple and MS both claimed that 128Kbps AAC and 128Kbps WMA, respectively, are better than 128Kbps MP3. Don't know if it is true or not. Just acknowledging that the claims have been made.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

iTunes plus is 256 AAC, and AAC is superior to mp3 at the same bitrate. But that doesn't mean that AAC 128 is better than mp3 256.



Nice idea, but that's a terrible choice of clips to use for comparison - artifacts are most obvious with things like cymbals. The difference is minor in that case, but with lots of material it's extremely obvious.
post #17 of 40
I recently have started using Amazon's song service, because it works (adds songs automatically to iTunes), is cheaper generally (89¢/song), no blasted DRM, and the quality is the same to my ear.

Thumbs up!
post #18 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eduardo View Post

According to the article it doesn't appear that emusic is tracked.
I have an emusic account; so I purchase music downloads via iTunes; Amazon; and emusic.
...and I still purchase compact disc's (my preferred choice)!

Right on brother, freedom of choice is a beautiful thing. I do the same thing, iTunes (only if it's iTunes Plus), eMusic (for all things indie) and CD's (for when I love it so much I must have the physical disc). I'd love to purchase from Amazon too.. but Canada is always last on the list with these things it seems. Let's get it together Amazon! (Or Apple.. whoever does the whole DRM free thing here first is my horse to bet on).

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZagMac View Post

Given the various environments I listen to music in, bit rate not as important to me. And I'm too short-sighted to care much about being locked-in to the Apple world of music. So it all comes down to ease of use and being a good experience for me right now. And Amazon's store, while technically very easy to use, is just not a very good customer experience. I won't bore anyone with details, since everyone has their own opinion if they've used it, but as a guy who spends his work-life measuring and improving customer experience, my list of things broken about the Amazon store is extrensive (yes, I do wish I could leave my work at work when I turn into a consumer, but alas...).

Bottom line: I believe a stronger, better Amazon e-music store is good for me as a consumer. Anyone else? Am I being blind to reasons we should root against them?

No I totally agree. Amazon has a pretty strong base service going.. if they get their act together and open internationally, they have a good chance of giving iTunes a real run for it's money. (And competition is always a good thing in my books.)

Jimzip
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post #19 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by csimmons View Post

So Amazon is selling more music than eMusic? Really? Or, does the eMusic subscription model not count in NPD's data tracking methods?

I really don't know. It's not necessarily that hard, depending on whether you count tracks or money. One track at Amazon costs about 2.5x that of a track at eMusic. eMusic places restrictions though, you pretty much have to subscribe, you only get a certain number of tracks a month, they don't roll over if you don't use them all, and to get more tracks in a given month, you have to subscribe to a higher plan rather than just buy them outright. As such, I quit eMusic once I got what I wanted.
post #20 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

Apple really needs to get DRM free versions of the stuff Amazon has DRM free as well as the higher bitrate on everything.


When I buy music now, first I check it out on iTunes and play the sample there to find what I want. Then I check to see if it's DRM'd or not. If it has a DRM, then I go to Amazon to see if I can get it there.
post #21 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't recall reading Apple claiming that. AAC is a better codec that MP3, but there is no question that a 256Kbps MP3 contains more uncompressed data than a 128Kbps AAC file.

That doesn't mean anything.

There is no "uncompressed data" in either AAC or MP3. Its all psychoacoustic encoding algorithms with lose lots of the original music. Its all a matter of which algorithm tricks you better into thinking you hear all the music. AAC is clearly much superior to MP3.
post #22 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by fraklinc View Post

Dude, if you think you would be able to tell the difference between a 128Kbps & 256Kbps MP3, check this site out & you will see how wrong you are http://mp3ornot.com/

I can easily tell the difference between 128kbps MP3 and 256kbps MP3. But it depends on the music that you've encoded. I've heard many horrible sounding tracks with 128kbps MP3. Its a high pitched warbling of high pitched percussion that I most often hear. Its one of those things, you could listen to a track and never hear the artifacts, but once you hear it, its hard to ignore it.

I've even heard artifacts in 256kbps MP3, but only in one segment of one track. I've tried with 128kbps AAC to hear any artifacts and it has always sounded perfect to me. But I haven't been as exhaustive testing, and it may just be that I haven't recognized how they sound. Once I do, I may hear it more often.
post #23 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by dm3 View Post

There is no "uncompressed data" in either AAC or MP3. Its all psychoacoustic encoding algorithms with lose lots of the original music. Its all a matter of which algorithm tricks you better into thinking you hear all the music. AAC is clearly much superior to MP3.

I agree with all of that. But that still doesn't mean that the advantage of AAC is great enough that 128 bit AAC sounds better than 256 bit MP3.
post #24 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimzip View Post


No I totally agree. Amazon has a pretty strong base service going.. if they get their act together and open internationally, they have a good chance of giving iTunes a real run for it's money. (And competition is always a good thing in my books.)

Jimzip

Obviously almost everyone would say that competition is better for consumers, but only if it is fair competition. iTunes succeeded against all the rest because they offered a better customer experience and because the others were... basically crap. The present situation with the labels almost tying iTunes hands behind their back to try and get Amazon ahead offends my sense of fair play really. I know some people would argue that all's fair in love, war and money but it gets me steaming and I wouldn't use anything else out of principle.
Just my .02c

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post #25 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

Obviously almost everyone would say that competition is better for consumers, but only if it is fair competition. iTunes succeeded against all the rest because they offered a better customer experience and because the others were... basically crap. The present situation with the labels almost tying iTunes hands behind their back to try and get Amazon ahead offends my sense of fair play really. I know some people would argue that all's fair in love, war and money but it gets me steaming and I wouldn't use anything else out of principle.
Just my .02c

I think a major issue that may hold back iTunes in the future is the lack of availability internationally as you suggest. I used to live in Australia which has an iTunes store so I had no problems buying from Apple. Then I moved to Thailand and whilst I had my aussie bank credit card I could still buy from Australia. Now I only have Thai bank credit cards and am unable to purchase from iTunes anywhere. This forces me to go elsewhere to buy online!

Does anyone know why this country limitation is placed on buying from iTunes??
post #26 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by vTec View Post

I think a major issue that may hold back iTunes in the future is the lack of availability internationally as you suggest. I used to live in Australia which has an iTunes store so I had no problems buying from Apple. Then I moved to Thailand and whilst I had my aussie bank credit card I could still buy from Australia. Now I only have Thai bank credit cards and am unable to purchase from iTunes anywhere. This forces me to go elsewhere to buy online!

Does anyone know why this country limitation is placed on buying from iTunes??

Well I couldn't comment about Australia (being an NZer ), but as far as I know, the country limitation comes from the labels trying to screw us... again! Sigh. I hate to sound like a broken record (!ouch!), but it is easy to get annoyed at the rules imposed on us by the fat cats.

Apple have stated that they would love to have one global store and obviously it would be a lot easier for anyone to run a global store rather than pandering to each country's equivalent to the RIAA. Wouldn't it be great if anyone could legally download whatever music they liked from any country...?
/end dream

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post #27 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I wonder how many of these Amazon customers also have an iDevice, which is Apple's bread and butter.

Amazon knows that most of their customers do, which is why they have publically stated that their songs will automatically sync into iTunes.

They know where the sales are going.



Quote:
From the way the articles have read over the years, it seems that Apple only has control of the pricing, not the bit rate or DRM. If they did, I too would have thought they would have upped the quality.

Though, if they do make 256Kbps the new minimum at the iTS, would they then have to half their iPod capacity listings or could they still say "x many songs at 128Kbps"?

I really don't know.

It's a good question. I suppose they would make some statement like:

128KB/s equals a capacity of 100,000 songs.

256KB/s higher quality equals a capacity of 50,000 songs.
post #28 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I don't recall reading Apple claiming that. AAC is a better codec that MP3, but there is no question that a 256Kbps MP3 contains more uncompressed data than a 128Kbps AAC file.

128 AAC is usualyl considered to be about equal to 160-192 MP3.

But, there is a newer MP3 encoding that's been around for almost two years that's about equal to AAC. I don't know who may be using it though, or whether it's compatible with standard MP3 decoders, but somewhere amongst all my software, I have a copy of the encoding software..
post #29 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by dm3 View Post

That doesn't mean anything.

There is no "uncompressed data" in either AAC or MP3. Its all psychoacoustic encoding algorithms with lose lots of the original music. Its all a matter of which algorithm tricks you better into thinking you hear all the music. AAC is clearly much superior to MP3.

What he means is that 256 throws away less data than does 128.

While AAC is better, it's not that much better. And variable rate MP3 is better than fixed rate AAC of the same bitrate (remember that variable means just that, but the average rate is about the same).
post #30 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by dm3 View Post

I can easily tell the difference between 128kbps MP3 and 256kbps MP3. But it depends on the music that you've encoded. I've heard many horrible sounding tracks with 128kbps MP3. Its a high pitched warbling of high pitched percussion that I most often hear. Its one of those things, you could listen to a track and never hear the artifacts, but once you hear it, its hard to ignore it.

I've even heard artifacts in 256kbps MP3, but only in one segment of one track. I've tried with 128kbps AAC to hear any artifacts and it has always sounded perfect to me. But I haven't been as exhaustive testing, and it may just be that I haven't recognized how they sound. Once I do, I may hear it more often.

The high frequencies go first. Music with little high energy high frequencies sound the best.
post #31 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by minderbinder View Post

I agree with all of that. But that still doesn't mean that the advantage of AAC is great enough that 128 bit AAC sounds better than 256 bit MP3.

It isn't.
post #32 of 40
Amazon will never measure-up to Apple's iTunes.
post #33 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by CREB View Post

Amazon will never measure-up to Apple's iTunes.

True. They now offer more for less.
post #34 of 40
One thing that Amazon does do better is the ability to preview an entire album with one click.
post #35 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by lostkiwi View Post

Obviously almost everyone would say that competition is better for consumers, but only if it is fair competition. iTunes succeeded against all the rest because they offered a better customer experience and because the others were... basically crap. The present situation with the labels almost tying iTunes hands behind their back to try and get Amazon ahead offends my sense of fair play really. I know some people would argue that all's fair in love, war and money but it gets me steaming and I wouldn't use anything else out of principle.
Just my .02c

Don't get me wrong here, if that's actually the case then I'll happily steam alongside you.
But why would the labels do that? Understandably they want music in as many outlets as possible, but why would they hamper one while boosting the other, why not allow them both to offer the goods? How much do the labels earn from the sales of tracks on iTunes compared to the (cheaper) amazon tracks? If the labels are helping Amazon out to get ahead when iTunes already has the best service, an established (and, quite frankly, huge) customer base, and a higher price per track, then that doesn't really make sense does it?
Perhaps there's something here we're missing.

Jimzip
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post #36 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimzip View Post

Don't get me wrong here, if that's actually the case then I'll happily steam alongside you.
But why would the labels do that? Understandably they want music in as many outlets as possible, but why would they hamper one while boosting the other, why not allow them both to offer music? How much do the labels earn from the sales of tracks on iTunes compared to the (cheaper) amazon tracks? If the labels are helping Amazon out to get ahead when iTunes already has the best service, an established (and, quite frankly, huge) customer base, then that doesn't really make sense does it?
Perhaps there's something here we're missing.

Jimzip

What you are missing is that Apple is setting the pricing for music. The labels want popular music to be more expensive because of it's much higher demand despite no lack of supply. The allowance of higher bit rate audio with no DRM is a long play by the studios to bring iTunes Store down from its throne. This article indicates that it's not working out for them. There is one studio exec who called Jobs crazy for even suggesting DRM-free music, just to offer it to Amazon a few months later. It's a strategy that doesn't appear to be working out as they wished as iTS doesn't seem to have lost neither customers nor additional supporting studios, though they have not gone DRM free either.

What is interesting is that despite the incorrect usage of monopoly this week regarding Macs, the iTunes Store has many characteristics of a pure monopoly.
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post #37 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

What you are missing is that Apple is setting the pricing for music. The labels want popular music to be more expensive because of it's much higher demand despite no lack of supply. The allowance of higher bit rate audio with no DRM is a long play by the studios to bring iTunes Store down from its throne. This article indicates that it's not working out for them. There is one studio exec who called Jobs crazy for even suggesting DRM-free music, just to offer it to Amazon a few months later. It's a strategy that doesn't appear to be working out as they wished as iTS doesn't seem to have lost neither customers nor additional supporting studios, though they have not gone DRM free either.

Right right, I understand.
I just went and looked at Amazon's pricing too, looks like only albums are cheaper... tracks are the same as iTunes.
Carry on! (And sorry for clouding the discussion!)

Jimzip
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post #38 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

What you are missing is that Apple is setting the pricing for music. The labels want popular music to be more expensive because of it's much higher demand despite no lack of supply. The allowance of higher bit rate audio with no DRM is a long play by the studios to bring iTunes Store down from its throne. This article indicates that it's not working out for them. There is one studio exec who called Jobs crazy for even suggesting DRM-free music, just to offer it to Amazon a few months later. It's a strategy that doesn't appear to be working out as they wished as iTS doesn't seem to have lost neither customers nor additional supporting studios, though they have not gone DRM free either.

What is interesting is that despite the incorrect usage of monopoly this week regarding Macs, the iTunes Store has many characteristics of a pure monopoly.

Also, Amazon, like Walmart, offers the music more cheaply than Apple. That never gave traction o Walmart, but Amazon seems to be catching on.
post #39 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by melgross View Post

Also, Amazon, like Walmart, offers the music more cheaply than Apple. That never gave traction o Walmart, but Amazon seems to be catching on.

Which is why I think Apple may be facing future monoploy charges with iTS and may have to let the studios eventually have some control over pricing.
Quote:
No close substitutes: A monopoly is not merely the state of having control over a product; it also means that there is no real alternative to the monopolized product.
A price maker: Because a single firm controls the total supply in a pure monopoly, it is able to exert a significant degree of control over the price by changing the quantity supplied.

If the studios can prove that the current pricing generates so little profit to them that it is practically worthless and that upstarts can't gain much ground even when offering higher quality and less restrictions at a lower price, then they may have a case.

But I don't think they will win since, IMO, people choose iTunes Store for its convenience. Apple can also show that the labels are trying to remain a cartel by artificially inflating prices on popular music when there is no additional cost involved. Virtual ticket scalpers. Apple could also show their desire to be DRM-free if they pull the "iPod/iTunes Store lock-in" argument.

Then again, MS made IE a convenient choice and still lost the antitrust case. Still, I think the RIAA has too many skeletons in its closet to want to take this to court.

PS: I wonder if the reason Amazon is catching on is because its userbase is more savvy with using the internet than Walmart's customers. Or could this surge all be a result of the SuperBowl/Pepsi giveaway. Anyone know what is different between Amazon and Walmart's setup? Id est, studios, track numbers, bit rate, price, DRM?
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post #40 of 40
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Which is why I think Apple may be facing future monoploy charges with iTS and may have to let the studios eventually have some control over pricing.
If the studios can prove that the current pricing generates so little profit to them that it is practically worthless and that upstarts can't gain much ground even when offering higher quality and less restrictions at a lower price, then they may have a case.

But I don't think they will win since, IMO, people choose iTunes Store for its convenience. Apple can also show that the labels are trying to remain a cartel by artificially inflating prices on popular music when there is no additional cost involved. Virtual ticket scalpers. Apple could also show their desire to be DRM-free if they pull the "iPod/iTunes Store lock-in" argument.

Then again, MS made IE a convenient choice and still lost the antitrust case. Still, I think the RIAA has too many skeletons in its closet to want to take this to court.

PS: I wonder if the reason Amazon is catching on is because its userbase is more savvy with using the internet than Walmart's customers. Or could this surge all be a result of the SuperBowl/Pepsi giveaway. Anyone know what is different between Amazon and Walmart's setup? Id est, studios, track numbers, bit rate, price, DRM?

Don't forget that Amazon is picking up steam. If their sales continue to increase, charges against iTunes won't be possible.

Apple might also be able to charge the music companies of a criminal conspiracy to deprive Apple of competitive offerings. Racketeering charges could also be brought it it could be shown that the companies have engaged in criminal conduct by conspiring.

So its really very hard to say what will happen, but I presume that nothing will.

Even if Apple does get a monopoly, it's a "natural" monopoly. Those are allowed.

Apple never forced the companies to go along with the idea, and the growth of Amazon, as well as subscription companies, shows that there are other ways to market, and sell, their products.
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