Apple is sure to lose a little bit of its grip on music sales to iOS devices thanks to Amazon’s new HTML5-based music store, which launched today. The store, which specifically targets iPhone and iPod owners and is optimized for the Safari browser, offers 22 million tracks and features bestseller lists, personalized recommendations and Amazon ratings.
As John Battelle points out, the most compelling thing about the new online storefront is the simplicity from the consumer’s point of view. Purchases are automatically transferred to an Amazon Cloud Player account — 5 GB of storage are free — enabling users to access them on all kinds of devices. The offering can’t be as seamless as iTunes, which is fully integrated with iOS, but it’s likely to attract plenty of iOS users looking for more flexibility (and perhaps lower prices) for their music.
But I don’t think this is very bad news for Apple, which — as opposed to Amazon — is a hardware company much more than a digital content vendor. Apple continues to reap big margins from its lineup of iOS devices, and Amazon’s new store just makes it easier for iPhone and iPod owners to continue to buy Apple’s gadgets even if they want to buy their music elsewhere. Which means this could actually be a win/win for two of mobile’s biggest players. And that is a very rare thing.