Apple’s strength, as well as its weakness, is the “walled garden” they maintain around their products. Under normal circumstances, users can only install applications directly from iTunes. In addition, any company that sells something on an iOS device is required to send a hefty 30 percent of the gross revenue to Apple, an amount that caused many developers to complain. Direct access to Amazon’s library of MP3s, for example, has been off-limits to people who use Apple products.
According to the LA Times, it looks like Amazon has found a way to sidestep these restrictions. Instead of creating an app in the iTunes store, they’ve launched a mobile version of their MP3 store. Using Safari, customers can browse and purchase music and play it on their iPhone, iPad, or any other device they own, all without restriction. This move could save customers a lot of money since, unlike Apple, Amazon frequently has deep discounts on their music. Once the music is purchased, it can be played with the Amazon Cloud Player (available via iTunes). We’re sure many people already used a computer to purchase music from Amazon and import it into iTunes. This move just makes it much simpler for non-technical users to gain access to the store.
Whether this will have a big impact on Apple’s music sales remains to be seen, but nobody can argue that Amazon has done an amazing job making music easier to access. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, Apple does in response to this change.