Amazon Has a Huge Opportunity on Palm’s Pre

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Although I’m planning to get a Palm Pre handset next weekend in two weeks, I’m sort of disappointed in one particular feature. The phone only has 8GB of storage capacity and some of that is taken up by the operating system. I’m bummed by that for two reasons. My current everyday handset is the first-generation 8GB iPhone, so I’m not gaining anything in the storage department. Secondly, my current digital audio library is 9GB in size. That’s why I store my media locally and in the cloud: The music that I can’t fit on my phone can be streamed from the cloud. Currently, I’m using ZumoDrive for that purpose.

Call me crazy, but I think Amazon is missing a huge opportunity here and the best place to realize it is on the Palm Pre.

Let me backtrack a minute to set up this crazy scheme. When I bought my iPhone in July of 2007, 8GB seemed like overkill. I wasn’t buying much music back then so I never figured I’d have a space issue. But then I discovered Amazon with their DRM-free MP3 store. I actually hit their storefront every single day. It’s the first site I hit, in fact. Why? Because every day they offer a different MP3 album for anywhere between $1 and $4. I’ve bought more music in the last two years due to these deals than I did in the prior five. I really didn’t plan for that from a portable space perspective.

Fast-forward to today. We’ve already seen the Amazon MP3 app for the Pre. With it, you can purchase and download albums or tracks right on the device. I can’t do that today because of the way the MP3 store currently works. I have to be at a PC or Mac and use the Amazon MP3 Downloader application to get my music. But what if I didn’t want to download the music at all? Why couldn’t Amazon store it for me on their servers? Enter Amazon’s Simple Storage Service, aka: Amazon S3.

I’d love to see a combination of software and service that ties the Amazon MP3 store and S3 service together. What if that Amazon MP3 app for the Palm Pre gave you two options for your music purchase: download to device or store it on Amazon’s servers? Of course, the Pre’s media player would need to support streaming capabilities or you wouldn’t be able to actually play the music you have stored on Amazon’s servers. I suppose the other option would if the mobile Amazon application could connect and play the music. That’s not too far-fetched, assuming the application will allow for music previews before you buy. The playback function is likely already there.

The use of S3 with applications isn’t new. JungleDisk is a cross-platform backup client app that remotely stores your data on Amazon’s S3 servers. Using JungleDisk as an example, you can see that the cost of using S3 isn’t astronomical. You pay for what you use. In the case of JungleDisk it’s 15 cents per GB of storage per month while data transfers range between 10 cents and 17 cents per GB uploaded or downloaded.

While costs will vary based on usage and storage, I figure that this streaming model wouldn’t be much in my case, maybe two or three bucks a month. Heck, Amazon could even add 10 cents per track at the point of purchase and include storage and streaming services. There’s a few ways they could go with this.

The Pre gives them a good proving ground for this. It’s not an iPhone, for starters, and that’s important because there’s simply no way Apple would allow such an app on their phones. It’s just too competitive with what they currently do or potentially plan to do.

Palm and Amazon: If you’re listening, your best chance to really put the “web” in webOS is here now. Well not quite… it’s here on June 6th, but you get my point.


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