Apple plays cloud catch-up

May delay iOS 5 to ensure it can compete

There is no separate Android app for the new player – instead, customers will download the latest version of the Amazon MP3 App, which also includes the retailer's music store. Any purchase from that store goes directly into the customer's collection on the Cloud Drive. There is also an upload client that will automatically detect music on a computer and save it to the owner's virtual drive.

There is, of course, a glaring omission – a version for the iPhone or iPad. Amazon has made iOS a first-stage platform for previous launches such as the Kindle ebookstore and ereader app, but a showdown is looming with Apple over the latter's terms for in-app purchasing. Amazon may well be preparing for that battle by throwing its considerable weight fully behind Android, and at the same time, strengthening its own Android offerings to create a fully fledged platform.

This could threaten Google as well as Apple – the retailer already has its own Android app store, and will be integrating its various content shops and players to create a wide-ranging user experience, unified by Amazon trademarks such as one-click purchasing and its recommendation engine. Already, its apps shopfront is luring customers with differentiated features such as the TestDrive facility, which allows users to preview apps before they buy them.

Amazon's aim seems to be to provide the Android equivalent of iTunes – before Google has the chance to do that itself. It now sells ebooks, newspapers and magazines, music, movies and apps via web-based or mobile players.

Amazon may be storing up battles with other powerhouses, not just Apple: it is taking the stand that it does not need licensing deals with record labels just to store music remotely, but the music industry has already taken legal action against some similar services – albeit less powerful players than Amazon – and will also be keeping a watchful eye on Google's position.

Copyright © 2011, Wireless Watch

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