Amazon rolls out its AutoRip service in Germany

Amazon has rolled out its AutoRip service in Germany today. The service was first released in the USA in January this year and was received with great delight from consumers. It was a feature that was greatly anticipated, as digital music sales far surpassed its physical album counterparts both in terms of market share and consumer preference.

AutoRip offers a free digital version of an album when you buy a CD, Vinyl or any other physical format of that album. The MP3 files are added to your Amazon Cloud Player library and you can access it from your PC, Mac or any other connected device. The service does not extend to all albums though; only a few of the albums currently support AutoRip. However, the support is increasing by the day and there are over 500,000 titles available in Germany with AutoRip enabled.

The main push behind AutoRip is the widening gap between digital music sales and physical media sales. Amazon used to be one of the top music CD distributors, but ever since Apple introduced its iTunes Store, Amazon has lost a lot of ground in the music sales market.

Music lovers preferred the simple, cheap and wide-range of music selection offered by digital stores. Apple zoomed past many competitors with its iPod line and iTunes Store complementing each other. However, it took many years for Amazon to launch its own digital music store. Amazon MP3 was launched in January 2008 and was the first store to sell digital music without any digital rights management (DRM). Apple had gained such a foothold by then that it was difficult to challenge its dominance.

With the release of AutoRip, Amazon hopes to reverse the trend and regain its lost footing in the music sales market. The customers will be getting more value for their money as they will be getting access to both the physical media and the digital version on the Amazon Cloud Player. Users can then stream the music to their mobile devices or cache it for offline use later. There is even an option to download the MP3 to their devices.

Another interesting facet of AutoRip is that it not only applies to present purchases and those that will be made in the future, but also to all purchases that you have already made in the past. If the album you have bought supports AutoRip, then your MP3 files will be automatically added to your Amazon Cloud account. If you do not have an Amazon Cloud account, then it will be created for you automatically.

Some may think that Amazon is too late in the game to offer this service which should have been made available years ago; but all is not yet lost for Amazon. They are still the number one company when it comes to online retail market and digital book sales. Having a strong foothold in a different segment of the market will give them the much needed push to compete against the likes of Apple.