Amazon's Mp3 store is now available in the UK which is great news. They seem to have a lot of tracks and albums available and track pricing is variable but seems tio start at the 69p which undercuts Apple's iTunes music store by quite a bit.
Amazon's tracks are DRM free tracks which means that you will always have access to your music. Whereas DRM tracks could become unplayable should the DRM service be switched off in the future. Think it won't happen? Sadly there's been several cases of DRM services being shutdown. MSN and Yahoo have both shut-down DRM based services in the past so it's a big problem potentially. Clearly if Amazon can negotiate their way around the DRM problem companies like Apple should be able to just as well. (Granted apple does have the iTunes Plus tracks which are DRM free but this is a Minor subset of their overall catalogue.)
Album pricing seems to start at around £3.00 which is surprisingly aggressive, and it's good to see major players like iTunes getting some decent competition. Also right now there seems to be lots of recently released albums available for £3.00 such as the Kings Of Leon album - Only By The Night. Can't really complain at paying Â£3.00 for that. It's Â£7.99 on the iTunes store.
The bit-rate is 256 kbps and whilst this is ok it would be good to see this upped in the future. Also I'd personally love to see the addition of open lossless formats such as flac. Though I can see that this possibly has a limited audience.
To download the tracks a software downloader is required but crucially this is available for OSX, windows and Linux. Purchasing a track is straight forward enough - a download of a .amz file is triggered which you open with the downloader and it proceeds to download the tracks.
Provided their music catalogue continues to grow to match their CD market I'm pretty sure Amazon's UK mp3 offering will be a success. And Apple needs to start to wake up to this competition - whilst alternative mp3 services such as 7Digitial might not be widely known to the average Joe - Amazon is well known and anyone who uses amazon is likely to find the mp3 store pretty quickly if they'd not already heard of it.