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Amazon ups the ante against Apple's iTunes

Global e-tailer Amazon (opens in new tab) 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, 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.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.