To Fight iTunes, Amazon May Offer "Auto Rip" of Purchased CDs

Amazon CD Auto Rip

UPDATE: Amazon has just launched the Auto Rip service, covering both new purchases and previous purchases dating back to 1998 for over 37,000 eligible discs. A new “Auto Rip” icon will appear next to physical CD listings in the store to identify eligibility. [Thanks, Bosco, for letting us know!]

Online retailer, consumer electronics firm, and media giant Amazon is soon expected to announce an “auto rip” service, that will automatically add the tracks from a purchased physical CD to a user’s account on the company’s Cloud Player, which enables online access to a cloud-based library of digital music content, according to sources speaking with CNET at CES in Las Vegas. The move is an effort to both revitalize physical CD purchases as well as increase interest in Amazon’s cloud services.

Current internal plans for the service describe a system in which a user with an Amazon account purchases a physical CD and the content from that CD is then encoded into MP3 format and automatically added to the customer’s Amazon Cloud Drive for access by the Amazon Cloud Player.

Apple currently offers a service similar to the Cloud Player, called iTunes Match. With iTunes Match, a customer adds songs to their iTunes library on Mac or PC, either from ripping physical CDs or importing downloaded content “obtained elsewhere.” The service then scans the files and adds access to them to a user’s digital cloud library or uploads the files to the library if iTunes cannot find a match.

With Amazon’s potential service, the company will take the user ripping process out of the equation for new CD purchases. The company is also considering applying the service to past purchases, which would be a significant undertaking, as Amazon has been selling CDs longer than the iTunes Store has been in operation.

As CNET points out, Amazon’s efforts would be similar to those in the movie industry, where five out of the top six studios are committed to UltraViolet, a shared online digital movie distribution platform. Many studios are including access to an online copy of a film via UltraViolet when the film is purchased physically on DVD or Blu-ray.

In the area of movies, iTunes also stands apart from the crowd by offering its own cloud-based solution, although there is not yet any official way for Apple customers to add physically purchased video content to their cloud library.

Digital distribution has become the primary method of obtaining content for many consumers, but physical content still offers some advantages, including better quality and a built-in backup if later ripped digitally. Amazon’s music store is nowhere near as successful as Apple’s iTunes Store, but pressure from the Seattle-based company may prompt Apple to respond by offering its customers content of better quality (for example, 24bit lossless) or better value through reduced prices.

Teaser graphic made with help from Shutterstock.