The much-delayed launch of Amazon's MP3 service - the most plausible iTunes Music Store threat (if not actual killer) to date - could be happening in the next couple of week. The New York Post has read its runes and predicts a big switch-on for September 17th.
The birth is set to be troubled, though, as record labels seem to be more interested in setting unrealistic prices rather than helping create a proper rival to Apple's behemoth:
Albums are expected to cost between $7.99 and $9.99.
That strategy is said to be rubbing some labels the wrong way. Amazon is said to still be negotiating prices with the majors.
Multiple prices for music, a concept known as variable pricing, has been a priority for the major labels, who have chafed at iTunes' one price for all songs, regardless of their popularity. But many large record companies want to charge more than $1 for songs from superstar acts, and possibly less for music from undiscovered artists.
You've got to love the way the music industry bleats for years about wanting someone to challenge Apple, and as soon as someone comes along who could, credibly, do so, they expect the appearance of competition to work in the opposite way in the download music market to how it behaves elsewhere in the world, bringing prices up rather than forcing them down. It's like an entire industry without anyone who understands business,