This is an update to my previous post on this subject. Amazon MP3 downloader does support storing songs in iTunes. It’s a preference option hidden in its menu. Thanks to Scott for catching that.
So that makes things a bit easier to deal with. I would still like to see Amazon get rid of the downloader and directly place the song in my iTunes.
Eliminate as many steps as possible and make the experience seamless. That will be a great way to compete with iTunes.
Alternatively Amazon can go fully in the other direction. They can develop a full blown iTunes replacement application. Their developer community already enables great applications with the amazing set of AWS framework. They will have to ensure that its as seamless as iTunes.
By now you must already know that Amazon has launched its MP3 download service to contend with the likes of iTunes. This has been a much anticipated move by Amazon, who is looking forward to displace iTunes from its leadership position.
So what would Amazon do to take on the goliath (iTunes)? Build the Earth’s Biggest Selection of a la Carte DRM-Free MP3 Music Downloads. With this selection they plan to offer cheaper, DRM free high quality music (256 kbps) to its users. The beta service boasts over 2 Million DRM free songs as part of their portfolio. These songs are available for direct high quality MP3 downloads, which allows them to compatible with “Any” device in the market.
Now, I am not going to review this service again for you. I am sure you can read Om Malik’s or Paul Stamatiou’s great posts or play with the service yourself. Although I am taking a critical look at the service as a consumer to see if it convinces me to move away from iTunes. So the intent here is to use the service as a user would and offer my verdict.
This week the carnival comes to sunny Santa Cruz California. This is my first time hosting the carnival, so I am pretty excited to present some great posts from some really great bloggers.
I have categorized these posts in broad topics for your reading pleasure.
Security and Privacy
Malcolm who runs a blog on Smart-phones has authored a comprehensive post on the growing problem of piracy in the Smart Phone market.
Charles on the other hand looks at privacy and recommends everyone to be careful on what they leave on their cell-phones.
Ben from Masabists introduces the Two Factor Authentication for bettering mobile authentication.
Few weeks back I wrote about NBC breaking up with Apple in order to sell its content elsewhere. The popular knowledge at the time was that NBC will leverage Amazon’s Unbox service to sell their TV shows. In addition NBC also announced partnership with FOX to launch a new web video distribution service called HULU. Not to mention that NBC.com itself hosts videos of all its shows and users can access episodes for the whole season.
In that post, I predicted that NBC may dabble into alternate business models. They may offer access to free content purely based on ads, something which Apple does not provide. Following were my exact words:
I believe many more media networks will go down this path and explore their own delivery methods. Many (including NBC) will leverage ad based model to inherently make the content free.
Lo and behold, today NBC made a press release, announcing a new service called “NBC Direct“. The idea is to offer ad supported free downloads to users for its popular shows. The service will launch its beta program in October and will offer downloads on windows PC. The content will be available for viewing for 1 week after download and will expire after that.
I have been itching to write about this service for past few weeks. I have been part of their beta test program and am managing my finances through their service. Unfortunately they had a press embargo and hence I couldn’t blog about them. They officially launched yesterday at TechCrunch40 and lifted the restriction on bloggers.
Mint is a new service, which is taking on the likes of Quicken and MS Money. I have been a long time user of Quicken and wasn’t quite happy with it. Not all my banks supported Quicken and it was too complicated to use.
Now Mint tries to simplify all of that. It has a very simple interface for adding your banks and credit card accounts. Within minutes I registered all my banks with the service. I must say that some banks require additional registration information like ING Direct, which can cumbersome at times. Once registered Mint automatically downloads all the transactions from the banks and stores it in the account.
Once you have registered all your accounts, Mint automatically organizes all the transactions into pre-defined categories. These categories help understanding the nature of the transaction. In addition to the categories the service allows you to tag any specific transactions with your own data. One can change categories can even set rules for transactions of certain nature. Very similar to email rules, but simpler.
I finally know what I want for this Christmas. No not the iPhone or the iTouch, but iCache. Well if you are planning to buy me a iPhone, I am not going to stop you
iCache is a device solving a problem, which has been around for a while and no one has figured out a good way to handle it. In this day and age most of us carry multiple credit cards and customer loyalty cards. Every retailer I go to has some sort of a loyalty program, which I end up taking up for its benefits. Even if it doesn’t have any monetary benefits, some retailers mandate a card (like Blockbuster and Costco) for normal transactions.
Now if you are like me, over time you must have collected 8 to 10 cards. This is after I tried consolidating last year using my drivers license. So my wallet has gotten bulky and quite frankly has become a pain in the a**.
iCache has solved this in a really smart way. They have developed a really thin device which smartly stores a generic card with a magnetic stripe. Using their service, one can load all existing credit and loyalty cards. Then they can use their intuitive menu to select the card they want to use at that moment. The device temporarily enables the generic card’s magnetic stripe with the data for the card you selected.
Any new blogger knows that building reader traffic is long and hard process. I have been going through this process myself since inception of this blog. Bloggers typically use recommendations from experts like John Chow, ProBlogger etc. They offer multiple strategies for building traffic over time.
These strategies are sometimes expensive or really slow. BlogRush a new beta service aims to solve that in a very simple fashion. Once the blogger registers on their service, they receive code for enabling a widget (just like the one on the right column) on their respective blog.
The widget displays posts from other blogs with similar topics. However the important thing to note is that BlogRush displays posts from the registered blogger, on other blogs as many times the widget gets displayed. So if the blogger gets 100 page views, her / his blog headlines will be displayed 100 times on other blogs hosting BlogRush widget.
Tim Trent of Marketing By Permission is hosting the carnival this time. He has a great collection of awesome posts for your reading pleasure. He has selected my post on Mobile Ads for this edition. Seems like I was close to being the “Post of the Week”. Go check it out.
Next week the carnival will be hosted by your’s truly, so don’t forget to check back.
Recently Google has been showing a lot of love to India. Now they have launched a new search feature on the Search service for cricket lovers. Just like its courier delivery tracking service and calculator, its launching Cricket Score service.
Just type Cricket into the search box and it will display the latest scores of various games as the top result. One can also type the country name to access specific scores.
I am a big time cricket fan and love this feature. Now I only hope they can make this into a widget for my Netvibes. Is someone at Google hearing me?
Amazon who has clearly established itself as the Web Services Operating System has made another interesting announcement today. Amazon is launching a start-up contest with awards up to $100,000 in cash and Amazon credits. Not only that, the winner will receive an offer from Amazon to invest in their start-up. The key is that the start-ups must utilize Amazon’s web services for their offering. This includes S3, EC2, payment service etc.
Here is how it will work (from contest site):
To enter, developers, entrepreneurs, and start-ups begin by completing an online application by October 28, 2007. The Amazon judges’ panel will review all applications and choose five finalists, based on originality and creativity of the idea, likelihood of long-term success, how well it addresses a need in the marketplace, and implementation of pay-as-you-use Amazon Web Services.
Finalists will be announced in November and Amazon will produce a video of each finalist to post on aws.amazon.com where the community can vote for their favorite start-up.
For the Final Round, AWS will fly the finalists to Amazon Headquarters in Seattle to present their idea to the judges’ panel. That evening, the finalists will pitch their business to VCs, mingle with industry leaders and Amazon executives, and be featured at the AWS Start-Up Challenge Awards Dinner, where the grand prize winner will be announced.
This is a very interesting move by Amazon. Who knows they may end up setting up a fund for start-up utilizing AWS, very similar to the fund dedicated to Facebook apps.
So if you are an entrepreneur or a start-up already dabbling with AWS, go check it out.
Just yesterday I posted about ZOHO and their move in the small business marketplace and potential threat to Google. Google made a significant announcement today where it will partner with Cap Gemini to offer its office applications to enterprise customers. Cap Gemini already runs desktop services for over a million customers will starting offering Google apps to enable productivity and collaboration. Google offers following within its premier app edition:
- Gmail (with 10 GB)
- Start page
- Page creator
- Docs and spreadsheet
- Management apps, enterprise support and
- API access
Well I was hoping that this was just another announcement among the plethora of press releases Google makes. However almost hours later this announcement is drawing heat from other big players in this space.
Google launched their white-label app service mid to late last year, for small businesses, schools and personal use. From that point onwards this has been quite a hit as many start-ups and families have started utilizing their services. I too use their services for my personal domain.
This is quite a nascent space where folks like Google are gaining some ground. Most of these services have been offered for free, however the small business editions are being offered for a premium.
Zoho on the other hand broke onto the scene early last year as one of the strong players in the web office space. Zoho has been a very aggressive company, frequently releasing new features to bring a 360 degree offering. Until now this has been seen as a play to offer cheap alternative to Microsoft Office. This offering however was labeled as a personal edition. Anyone could have registered and used their services for free.
I am traveling this week and hence my posts will be short and sweet.
Palm finally announced that they will no longer be shipping the
foolio Foleo. The hideous looking device, which was supposed to be a PDA companion was announced at the D5 conference earlier this year.
This announcement never quite made sense to me as the Foleo looked very close to a thin laptop but with reduced functionality. So if one wants to carry a device of such form factor, they might as well carry their laptops. I can speak from experience as I am some what of a road warrior.
The interesting part in all of this is that this device never shipped. Quite rarely it happens that a device is announced publicly but gets canceled before shipping. Anyways I am glad Palm decided to focus solely on the smartphone platform. Although the CEO Ed Colligan does mention something about Foleo II, which they will continue to explore.
Here is a video of Jeff Hawkins announcing the Foleo at D5.
GigaOm has a detailed analysis, check it out.
This week’s carnival is hosted at WAP Review. My post on the gPhone has been featured this week. There are many other great posts featured this time. Something for everyone. Stay tuned for September 24th when the carnival will be hosted by your’s truly.
Few weeks ago, I reported about Universal severing its ties with Apple. Universal had disagreements with Apple around the pricing structure, which led to refusal to renew its contract. Universal then teamed up with Google and gBox to bring DRM free music to the masses via the Google AdWords program.
Well, the hate for iTunes is spreading further. Following Universal, NBC announced that it will no longer utilize Apple iTunes to deliver its content. NBC’s portfolio includes popular shows like Heroes, The Office and My Name is Earl.
This comes right after NBC’s announcement of its online video service (in partnership with NEWS Corp), named Hulu, where they are planning to offer hit shows from both NBC and FOX. They are still in private beta. Apart from Hulu, NBC also offers streaming video on its own website.
The first edition of the Mobile Ads Carnival has been postponed to September 16th 2007. Check back on the 16th for best articles around Mobile Ads.
You can still submit your entries at the Blog Carnival website.