Amazon Plans Music Service To Rival iPod By ETHAN SMITH and MYLENE MANGALINDAN, The Wall Street Journal (Feb. 16) - In recent years, Amazon.com Inc. Chief Executive Jeff Bezos has explained his company's deliberately paced approach to the digital-music business by saying he wants to avoid simply imitating the dominant player in the field, Apple Computer Inc.'s iTunes Music Store. Now Amazon, the world's No. 1 online retailer, is in advanced talks with the four global music companies about a digital-music service with a range of features designed to set it apart. Among them: Amazon-branded portable music players, designed and built for the retailer, and a subscription service that would deeply discount and preload those devices with songs, not unlike mobile phones that are included with subscription plans as part of the deal. Music executives privately welcome Amazon's plans, which they see as one of the only credible challenges to Apple's hegemony in both digital music and portable players. Now the question is whether Amazon's massive customer base is enough to offset a long delay in entering the online music business.