Amazon Fires Shot at Apple & iTunes with iOS-Targeted MP3 Store

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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.

Amazon MP3 Store iPhone iPod touch

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.

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Lee Dronick

Jim how does it look in regard to variety of music? Are there a lot of genres?


So I buy an iOS device primarily due to its cohesive and thriving ecosystem only to circumvent it and buy stuff from Amazon and use their player to listen to it? I suppose this reasoning (or lack of) is why Apple allows this sort of stuff.

I wonder if Amazon would let Apple release iTunes for the Kindle? Not that Apple would ever do that.

Jim Tanous

Hi Lee,

They have a large number of songs (over 22 million). I’ve occasionally bought from them over the years and I have yet to find something in iTunes that wasn’t in the Amazon store (except, of course, for things like “iTunes Sessions” and other exclusive content).


I suppose this reasoning (or lack of) is why Apple allows this sort of stuff.

@mtomlin, This MP3 store is a web site (“web app”), not a native app you get in the App Store. Apple didn’t “allow” it; Amazon simply designed a web site that is optimized for the size, shape and interface of iOS devices. They had to do it this way because Apple doesn’t allow this sort of thing in the App Store.

Lee Dronick

Thanks Jim


*sigh*... i still don’t see how mac has this mythical “thriving ecosystem”.. I had a mac for a while and its general lack of compatibility with the world at large drove me to give it away to my brother.. it’s thriving ecosystem seemed to do nothing but peg me into apples large, but still limited purview, which made me feel like a gimp.. Can you believe I actually heard this guy the other day ask where you can buy music other than itunes… ridiculous ignorance fostered by apple to keep its consumers in line.
kudos amazon.

Paul Goodwin

I took a quick look at that store. I searched on Classic Rock. On the left sidebar it lists the number of songs available at each price. Only 278 out of about 285,000 were $0.69.  88% is $0.90-$0.99.

I paged through a few pages of the classic rock, and after about 4 pages (100 songs or so) there was all manner of music types mixed in with the Classic Rock, so I don’t know how many Classic Rock songs they have. Lots of listings were titled ?????? By artist ???????.Forget browsing. IT’s a mess.

I couldn’t find any info on whether the files are 128K, or 256K.

When you buy a song, After reading their terms, it appears that all you are downloading is a pointer. The music actually resides on on their Cloud. The music streams to you using their player. I didn’t read everything. They mention an AutoRip, that might be capable of creating real files ?????

There’s absolutely no reason that I can see to use their service in lieu of iTunes. IMO, there was every reason to not go back there unless I am looking for a song that isn’t on iTunes.

Paul Goodwin

I like Amazon though for just about everything else you want to buy. Their online shopping and delivery system is second to nobody’s. they’ve got it down.

Paul Goodwin

I believe you can download the mp3 files from the cloud player after you buy it.  Kinda clunky, multiple steps.

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