Shortly after launching its Auto Rip MP3 service, Amazon has taken another shot at Apple by revamping its browser-based music store to improve the browsing and purchasing experience on the iPhone and iPod touch. Customers using the mobile Safari browser on these devices can now easily access and purchase digital music from Amazon and completely circumvent Apple’s iTunes ecosystem.
The Amazon MP3 store now offers a number of advantages over iTunes: prices are often lower, with far more songs priced at $0.69 and many deals for albums under $5 each. The songs are also natively in MP3 format, compatible with iTunes and iDevices and hundreds of other third-party audio players and software applications.
Amazon’s decision to target iOS users via a browser-based store is due to the way Apple structures payments from within iOS apps. Just like app purchases, Apple requires that it receive 30 percent of all revenue generated by in-app purchases, including one-time transactions and subscriptions. As a result, many companies, including Amazon, route their customers to an external website to avoid Apple’s control and authority.
Due to the way Amazon has implemented its cloud-based music service, however, customers who purchase music via the company’s Web store will instantly have access to the content from within the Cloud Player app, without any additional steps.
As mentioned above, the new design is only available on the iPhone and iPod touch. iPad users will still see the standard full-sized web interface that has powered the store since its launch over five years ago.
Although not a native app, our early impressions of Amazon’s MP3 Store on iOS devices is positive. Responsiveness is good and the layout is well-designed for touch input. While many may still prefer to stick with Apple’s ecosystem, those looking for an alternative will likely be pleased by Amazon’s latest move.