So what new piece of the pie has Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Amazon.com
According to The Wall Street Journal -- and the ever-mysterious "people familiar with the discussions" who get cited so often in articles about rumors -- Amazon has been in talks with record label executives about the concept of licensing music for a download service for its site. The article also said that Amazon has advertised for a content-acquisition position in digital music, which gives further credence to the idea that Amazon is fairly serious about the concept.
I can see, for obvious reasons, why Amazon would want a slice of the music-downloading pie, which is currently monopolized by Apple's
And of course, it also sounds a bit familiar, given recent rumors of Amazon's possible incursions into other high-profile entertainment spaces. The rumored move that springs to mind is the possibility that it could begin a DVD-by-mail initiative, taking on Stock Advisor pick Netflix
In fact, Wired magazine pointed out today that Amazon has advertised for a position specific to an online DVD rental service, although the company apparently remained cagey as to whether this is a service it will definitely launch in the U.S.
There's no question that Amazon is a giant that has proved its mettle in e-commerce again and again, but taking on these particular areas could easily make it an also-ran when going head-to-head with companies that are already well-established. Although Amazon has never shied away from putting profit margins on the back burner to first gain customer loyalty, it seems to me that it would be hard-pressed to take on the loyalty and momentum that Apple and Netflix already both have in their corner.
With Apple's iTunes iPod firing up its growth, it's very possible that the only way Amazon could really win here is to compete on price or offer a service that gives customers something a lot more compelling than the heavyweights have to offer. Netflix has its own cache of loyal subscribers who seem to be putting industry behemoth Blockbuster
As interesting as these incursions by Amazon might be, I can't help thinking it's too little too late in these two areas, despite Amazon's expertise in online retail. Still, it's going to be darn good entertainment (and for investors in many of these companies, maybe the equivalent of a thriller) watching what pans out.
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Alyce Lomax does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.