When it comes to buying music online, there’s iTunes, which is ahead by a mile, and then there’s everyone else. According to a recent report published by Billboard, iTunes accounts for 26.7% of US music sales, making it the top ranked music vendor in the United States, including physical retailers like Walmart and Best Buy. Amazon accounts for a respectable 7.1% of the market, but its digital download service — which competes directly with iTunes — only represents a meager 1.3% share (the rest is from physical CD sales). But we’re hearing Amazon is looking to turn things around.
We’re hearing from one source that Amazon is aiming for a major Q1 relaunch of the MP3 Store’s APIs and web services. They’re asking partners that are building out or planning to launch Amazon MP3 integrations to hold off until this new release is baked, we’ve heard.
Another piece of evidence: Amazon is actively hiring for the MP3 Store team. The MP3 Store’s Twitter account has just tweeted a page with over a dozen job openings for both business and engineering positions, including spots for a Web Applications Manager, Client Application Developer, and engineers dedicated to mobile apps for both Android and other partners (some of these openings were listed in the last five months, while others are apparently brand new).
Amazon’s MP3 store has been available in a public beta since September 2007, and made waves in 2008 by becoming the first online music vendor to sell songs without DRM (iTunes eventually followed). It comes pre-installed on Android phones as a native application (which works quite well), but its desktop website has a pretty poor user experience compared to iTunes. Look for Amazon to try to get its store integrated in as many places as possible later this year and early next year — given its past association with Android, it’s even possible that Amazon may be involved with the Google iTunes Competitor that was previewed at Google I/O.