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blog.gkaindl.com » Amazon & iTunes, please cooperate!

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Amazon & iTunes, please cooperate!

iTunes and Amazon

When the iTunes Music Store was first announced, I was pretty sure the reason why I could never get myself to actually buy tracks was the use of DRM to restrict playback to iPods and authorized computers. However, when iTunes Plus came along, I still didn’t find myself buying music on iTunes. I’m sorry, I just need the haptics of the actual “holding a record in my hand” experience.

I believe that the iTunes Store is exceptionally well designed. You can easily lose yourself browsing through different genres, clicking your way from artist to artist and listening to the free preview snippets on the way. It’s fun, it helps you to discover new artists and albums, it’s hard to resist the impulse to buy. Still, I always find myself going to Amazon and ordering the albums there. Isn’t that almost a bit unfair, using iTunes’ clever store application to discover albums, but then buying them on Amazon? Maybe it is…

Looking at my “record buying workflow”, I’m craving for a cooperation between iTunes and Amazon. My current “buying music on the internet” process is somewhat like this:

  • Specifically searching for an album on iTunes or just browsing aimlessly to discover new stuff
  • Listening to the free previews on iTunes
  • Jotting down which albums I want to buy
  • Buying these albums on Amazon
  • Waiting for the delivery
  • Ripping the CDs into iTunes to listen to them on the computer or the iPod
  • Occasionally listening to the CDs in regular CD players

Obviously, I still want my music in digital format as well as on a plain, old-school CDs. Right now, that means I have to buy on Amazon, no matter how good iTunes’ user experience is and how well it’s serving me to discover new music or test-listen to music I’m interested in. I use iTunes’ bandwidth, but I never but anything. On the other hand, it’s also annoying to wait for Amazon to deliver the goods, especially if the item is not available for 24-hour checkout (which will often happen if your taste is not too close to the mainstream).

So, dear iTunes and dear Amazon, why not cooperate? Wouldn’t it be awesome to buy an album on iTunes, download it immediately and receive the same album on CD from Amazon a few days later? The outcome would be exactly the same for me (i.e. the consumer): I’d still have the music both in iTunes and on CD, but the annoying waiting time for the delivery would be alleviated by having the music available as a download right away!

I believe that both iTunes and Amazon would benefit from such a partnership: While iTunes obviously benefits from actually getting purchases from people that want CDs rather than just a digital copy, Amazon would still benefit from a certain halo effect: Oh, since I’m already having these orders for CDs out, why not add a book or two to save on shipping costs? Additionally, think about all the people that are currently iTunes customers, but would still like to have a physical CD together with their digital download. After all, CDs come with additional artwork, the haptic experience and can be seen as an implicit backup of your music as well. I’m sure there’s quite a large group of people that would be interested!

Obviously, there’ll be the need for such a combo-package to be a bit more expensive than buying just a digital download or just the physical media: There’s bandwidth and shipping to pay, as well as the actual physical CD, and both Apple and Amazon will like to get their cut. However, we know that both bandwidth and the physical CD are ridiculously cheap these days. How about a price premium of no more than $5? Well, personally, I’d even be willing to pay more than that! It would simply be an awesome service! Remember, not only do I get the music right away and the physical medium later, it also saves me the time to actually rip the physical CD into iTunes…

Is such a cooperation coming? Probably not. I’m sure there are lots of strategical issues to consider both on Apple’s and Amazon’s side. Also, those two companies haven’t worked together in the past. It most likely won’t happen. Nevertheless, I believe this could be a lucrative service for both companies. Maybe, just maybe, iTunes will introduce a “digital download + physical medium” service some time in the future, provided Apple is not too proud to admit that digital downloads do not replace the experience of physical media for everybody. I truly hope they will…

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    Download Music » Amazon & iTunes, please cooperate!
    wrote on Nov 15, 2007 at 16:27

    [...] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here [...]

About

Hi, how are you? My name is Georg Kaindl, and I'm a twenty-something from Vienna, Austria. During the day, I'm a CS student at the Vienna University of Technology, but at night, I turn into an independent software developer for the Macintosh platform, social nerd, lazy entrepreneur and intuitive researcher.

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