Amazon ups the ante against Apple's iTunes

Global e-tailer Amazon has unveiled plans that will see the company deploy its MP3 division internationally in 2008. This will mean cheap, DRM free music that can be replayed everywhere, from iPods to Blackberrys.

Bill Carr, Amazon.com Vice President of Digital Music, said that the company received thousands of emails from customers who convinced Amazon to open their MP3 music download service to a wider global audience.

Amazon plans to offer 3.3 million songs from all four major labels and from 270000 artists, compared to iTunes' 6 million strong catalogue.

Amazon has not announced whether. like the iTunes, it would be providing its listeners with podcasts and audio books.

Amazon's MP3 files are encoded in 256kbps compared to 128kbps for iTunes, which translates into superior sound.

Also Apple's files are DRM infected and charges extra for non-DRMed files.

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.

Hopefully, Amazon won't go Apple's way by overcharging international consumers - each iTunes song costs 79p, more than 50 percent more than in the US.