A little late on the news here, as this was actually announced at the end of January. In case you are not aware, amazon.com sells unprotected high quality 256KB MP3 files as either individual songs or in complete albums. They offer variable pricing so some of their songs go for as little as .89. and Albums start at around 7.99. Currently the service is only available to US users (there are ways around this though), but Amazon has announced that they are going to be taking the store International in 2008.
This is a really big deal for most people that have an MP3 player. You are no longer tied to your music store if you have an iPod or a Zune, as the MP3s play on any player. I have searched for several albums that are available on Amazon as well as on iTunes. There are several albums that are available as unprotected MP3s on Amazon that are not available as iTunes Plus files. Usually the pricing is slightly cheaper but I have seen some albums that are a little more expensive.
The download program is a small, easy program to install (Mac or Windows) in your browser. It works well, downloading 1 file at time, but it will go through the entire album. It does have a resume function so if you lose your connection you can restart the downloads. The software does not manage your music but can import your purchased music into iTunes or Windows Media Player.
You can read the news release here.
I am really looking forward to this being introduced in Canada as since I use 2 Zunes and an iPod I like the ability to put music any any device without having to convert it to another format.
I have purchased a few albums from Amazon and do like the service.
No date has been announced yet but keep checking Amazon.ca or Amazon.com for info. If I hear of the release dates you will also be able to read it here!