The Mozilla foundation’s alternative media manager program, Songbird, recently got a nice new addition that brings its functionality even closer to that of iTunes, the Apple monopoly-holder it seeks to unseat. That addition is the ability to buy music from directly within the program, just like you can do with the iTunes store. You’ll be buying from 7digital, an online music distributor based in the UK.
7digital is the UK’s number one digital media distributor, and has localized stores for seven other European countries. Their library is nothing to sneeze at either, with 6 million titles and clients like EMI, Sony-BMG and Universal. That’s not too far behind the iTunes store’s roughly 8 million tracks, although the selection might differ according to the very different markets to which each store caters. Prices are similar to the iTunes store, with individual tracks priced at 99 cents. Track quality is excellent, too, thanks to DRM-free, 320kbps MP3s. You can also turn on 7digital’s recommendations engine to get suggestions from the service based on your purchases.
The 7digital music store is available as an add-on for Songbird 1.1.1, and appears in your left-hand menu under the sub-title “Stores,” which seems to imply that Mozilla plans to partner with other content providers in the future. They’ll definitely have to go elsewhere if they want to offer video for sale once they eventually get Songbird’s video playback features up and running. It’ll be tougher to crack the dominance of iTunes in that market, since there aren’t as many small, independent distributors with big-name contracts.
Plus they’ve got that little issue of adding device support for iPods and the iPhone before I can seriously consider throwing off the shackles of iTunes. Maybe Apple will play nice and help them out? That’s about as likely as me getting a Zune and any WinMo powered phone.