Tesco Digital to take on iTunesSupermarket to launch music MP3 downloads

16 April 2008

A girl wearing headphones

Good sound quality is an important factor for music downloads

Britain’s biggest supermarket is going head-to head-with Apple's iTunes site by launching a music and film digital download service.

Tesco Digital will offer 3.3 million ‘competitively priced’ music tracks when it launches next month.

About 1.6 million of these tracks will be in MP3 format, which means they can be played on virtually any digital music device including the Apple iPod. The rest will be in Windows Media format, which means they can't be played on an iPod.

The entire library is expected to be in MP3 by the end of the year, and Tesco says the site will later expand to offer downloadable films, TV shows and computer games.

Digital music

Which? Technology Editor Matthew Bath said: 'With Apple's iTunes store now the world's biggest seller of digital music, Tesco hopes it can encourage its customers to trust the Tesco brand and take Apple's crown.

'But, until Tesco reveals the prices of its digital music tracks and prices them below other online offerings, it is in danger of just being another in a growing list of similar online music shops betting that consumers will abandon Apple, while not offering anything extra to customers.'

The battle for the download market could become even more competitive following news that scientists have developed a way to dramatically increase the memory capacity of MP3 players.

Millions of songs

This would allow future MP3 players to stay the same physical size but store millions of songs. The largest Apple iPod can store 36,000 tracks.

Researchers at Glasgow University have created a tiny switch which would see up to one million gigabytes squeezed on to one square inch. The current limit is around 3.3 gigabytes.

The technology is being developed with scientists at the STFC Daresbury Laboratory in Warrington and the research is reported in this month's edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.