Amazon to Begin International Rollout of Amazon MP3 in 2008
Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced that in 2008 the company will begin an international rollout of Amazon MP3, Amazon's DRM-free MP3 digital music store where every song is playable on virtually any digital music-capable device, including the PC, Mac®, iPod®, Zune®, Zen®, iPhone™, RAZR™, and BlackBerry®. Amazon MP3 is the only retailer to offer customers DRM-free MP3s from all four major music labels as well as over 33,000 independent labels. "We have received thousands of e-mails from Amazon customers around the world asking us when we will make Amazon MP3 available outside of the U.S. They can't wait to choose from the biggest selection of high-quality, low-priced DRM-free MP3 music downloads which play on virtually any music device they own today or will own in the future," said Bill Carr, Amazon.com Vice President of Digital Music. "We are excited to tell those customers today that Amazon MP3 is going international this year." Launched on Amazon.com in September 2007, Amazon MP3 offers Earth's Biggest Selection of a la carte DRM-free MP3 music downloads, which now includes over 3.3 million songs from more than 270,000 artists. Every song and album in the Amazon MP3 music download store is available exclusively in the MP3 format without digital rights management (DRM) software and is encoded at 256 kbps to deliver high audio quality. Amazon MP3 customers are free to enjoy their music downloads using any hardware device; organize their music using any music management application, such as iTunes® or Windows Media Player™; and burn songs to CDs for personal use. Most songs available on Amazon MP3 are priced from 89 cents to 99 cents, with more than 1 million of the over 3.3 million songs priced at 89 cents. The top 100 bestselling songs are 89 cents, unless marked otherwise. Most albums are priced from $5.99 to $9.99. The top 100 bestselling albums are $8.99 or less, unless marked otherwise. Buying and downloading MP3s from Amazon MP3 is easy. Customers can purchase downloads using Amazon 1-Click shopping, and with the Amazon MP3 Downloader, seamlessly add their MP3s to their iTunes® or Windows Media Player™ libraries. The company is not disclosing a specific launch timeline for individual Amazon international websites. About Amazon.com Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), a Fortune 500 company based in Seattle, opened on the World Wide Web in July 1995 and today offers Earth's Biggest Selection. Amazon.com, Inc. seeks to be Earth's most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices. Amazon.com and other sellers offer millions of unique new, refurbished and used items in categories such as books, movies, music & games, digital downloads, electronics & computers, home & garden, toys, kids & baby, grocery, apparel, shoes & jewelry, health & beauty, sports & outdoors, tools, auto & industrial. Amazon Web Services provides Amazon's developer customers with access to in-the-cloud infrastructure services based on Amazon's own back-end technology platform, which developers can use to enable virtually any type of business. Examples of the services offered by Amazon Web Services are Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2), Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3), Amazon SimpleDB, Amazon Simple Queue Service (Amazon SQS), Amazon Flexible Payments Service (Amazon FPS), and Amazon Mechanical Turk. Amazon and its affiliates operate websites, including www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, www.amazon.de, www.amazon.co.jp, www.amazon.fr, www.amazon.ca, and the Joyo Amazon websites at www.joyo.cn and www.amazon.cn. As used herein, "Amazon.com," "we," "our" and similar terms include Amazon.com, Inc., and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise. Forward-Looking Statements This announcement contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Actual results may differ significantly from management's expectations. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that include, among others, risks related to competition, management of growth, new products, services and technologies, potential fluctuations in operating results, international expansion, outcomes of legal proceedings and claims, fulfillment center optimization, seasonality, commercial agreements, acquisitions and strategic transactions, foreign exchange rates, system interruption, significant amount of indebtedness, inventory, government regulation and taxation, payments and fraud. More information about factors that potentially could affect Amazon.com's financial results is included in Amazon.com's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including its Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2006, and all subsequent filings.
Sony Joins Other Labels on Amazon MP3 Store
Sony BMG, the music company, announced Thursday that it would become the fourth and final major label to begin selling digital music on Amazon.com, offering its entire catalog in the MP3 format by the end of the month.
The move by Sony BMG, which represents artists like Bruce Springsteen, the Foo Fighters, Santana and Justin Timberlake, further positions Amazon's digital music store as a significant rival to the market leader, the iTunes store from Apple.
"This is such an exciting day for us and our customers," said Bill Carr, vice president for digital music at Amazon. "All four major labels will be part of our service. It means our customers will really have access to all the biggest artists in the world."
Sony's embrace of the MP3 format is also the latest blow to the technology known as digital rights management software, or D.R.M., which is intended to prevent consumers from making unauthorized copies of digital material.
In an open letter to the music industry last February, Steven P. Jobs, Apple's chief executive, said his company would welcome the end of software antipiracy measures and a world where music from any online music store could be played on Apple devices.
Since then, one by one, major music industry figures like Edgar M. Bronfman Jr., Warner Music's chairman, have supported the notion that D.R.M. was doing more harm than good in the evolving digital music market.
But Sony's partnership with Amazon.com also underscores the music industry's gathering effort to nurture an online rival to Apple, which has sold more than three billion songs through its iTunes store. Most music purchased on iTunes can be played only on Apple devices, and Apple insists on selling all single tracks for 99 cents. Amazon, which sells tracks for anywhere from 89 cents to over a dollar, offers the pricing variability the labels want.
"The major music companies feel that Apple's foot is on their necks, and they would like to get it off," said Bill Rosenblatt, president of GiantSteps Media Technology Strategies, a consulting firm. "They are looking to destabilize Apple's dominant share, and they see Amazon as their best shot."
The Universal Music Group and EMI Group joined the Amazon MP3 music store when it was introduced in September. In December, the Warner Music Group announced that it would make its entire catalog available.
Nevertheless, the development is not necessarily a bad one for Apple, said Richard Greenfield, an analyst at Pali Capital. "My guess is that Apple doesn't care," he said. "The reality is, everyone will now start downloading their songs more cheaply someplace else and using them on their iPods."
Apple also sells digital music without copy protection, but so far only EMI has made its music available to iTunes in that format.