Amazon’s New Cloud Drive – an ‘almost’ step in the right direction.

While the announcement today from Amazon is a step in the right direction for all of us, in the sense that cloud computing is really the future, Amazon has made the same mis-step that other companies have made in a competitive environment by limiting and making certain music and movie file incompatible in its Cloud Drive (CD). Specifically, files not supported include Digital Rights Managed (DRM) files, ordinary files of over 100MB in size, ringtones, podcasts, audio books, and other non-music audio files. Unsupported file formats are .wma, .m4p, .wav, .ac3, .ogg, .ape and .flac.

READ: Apple music files and files that you could store on Google Docs.

So, it reminds me of the movie studios film rights ‘war’ of the nineties, when HBO and Showtime out bid one another and each ‘exclusively’ bought film pay rights for certain studios. The losers were the consumers (of course not in the mind of the pay services or studios). The consumers were forced to buy TWO pay services in order to get most of Hollywood’s prime films. Disney, Paramount and Tri-Star went to Showtime, Paramount, Fox, and Universal, and Warner Bros. Flash forward to today, none of this matters anymore.

Now, even though Amazon’s announcement today (http://bit.ly/hdbkTL) is very progressive and good for consumers, it alienates iTunes users. Ypu can’t store any music you bought from iTunes on Amazon and even if you didn’t buy it at Amazon, you can’t use your media player (iPod, iPhone or any Apple product) to stream that music back. I really hope that Google’s upcoming music locker will not prevent me from streaming and storing files I’ve purchase from either Amazon or Apple. I don’t want to have divide up and be forced to remember which files I bought from who in order to stream and enjoy my music.

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HP’s feet firmly planted in the clouds. The future is here, now. The Hard Drive is a dinosaur.

The announcement this week by the CEO of HP that HP wants to provide the platform of choice for cloud services and connectivity and that they will launch a public cloud offering in the near future is significant. Cloud computing has really come of age. No one will be laughing at Google’s CR-48 notebooks and Google’s Chrome OS anymore. Its no a flash in the pan.

The CEO, Leo Apotheker says everything HP will do in the future will be delivered as a service. HP also intends to install WebOS on a variety of devices, not just smartphones like Palm did. PC’s and laptops will have WebOS pre-installed and be able to run Windows as well. HP will perform a number of strategic acquisitions of innovative software and cloud-based service providers. And there is no shortage of innovators in the space. Take a look at the OnDemand 100 list of private companies in the space put together by Morgan Stanley, KPMG, Hewlett-Packard, Blackstone Group, Bridge Bank, Fenwick & West, Silicon Valley Bank, and industry experts: http://bit.ly/h4mqfK . HP certainly will find a few jewels in this crowd and probably won’t have to spend a fortune acquiring them given the numbers of competitors.

HP plans to establish an application store for enterprise customers and consumers. The app store will not just be mobile specific, like most other current app stores like Apple App Store and Android Market, but targeted at a wider range of devices. And its will be an open marketplace. Nice.

It’s a big change for HP. They are moving away from focusing on PCs, printers and hardware in general to the cloud, connectivity, security and services. HP does not plan on competing directly with other OS’s like Windows but rather to run in parallel. WebOS might also be able to run alongside Android on smartphones for example, giving user’s the choice of switching between platforms. Clearly, consumers and businesses will be changing the way they use PC’s and computers. The days of storing your data on your hard drive locally is numbered.

Apple’s App ecosystem…some notes

For those of you who don’t read these things, here are some takeaways and bullet points from the latest report from Distimo. The full report can be found here: http://www.distimo.com/

Less than two months after the launch of the Mac App Store, a top 300 Mac application already generates half the revenue of a top 300 iPad application on average.

The average selling price of the top 300 applications is seven times higher in the Mac App Store ($11.21) than on the iPhone ($1.57) and almost three times higher than on the iPad ($4.19).

The Mac App Store has 2,225 applications available in the store approximately two months post-launch. Comparatively, the Apple App Store for iPad had 8,099 applications two months post-launch.

Although on the Mac gaming has been less popular than on Windows, the Mac App Store promises a bright future for Mac gaming: there are already 646 games in this store (29%), and 39% of the most popular applications are games as well.

The proportion of free applications in the Mac App Store is lower than in any of the other application stores analyzed in this report: only 12% of the applications are free.

The 300 most popular free and 300 most popular paid applications in the three Apple application platforms (iPhone, iPad and Mac App Store) are published by 1,014 publishers in total. 173 publishers distribute applications in more than one of these stores (17%), the Mac App Store being one of these stores in 49 cases (5%).

Get ready to pay with your phone – presenting the iWallet via the iPhone 5 this summer!

NFC (short for Near-field communication) is a short-range, high-frequency wireless technology which lets devices – primarily mobile phones – communicate with other NFC devices. This can be utilized in a number of applications including mobile ticketing, mobile money, and smart billboards.

NFC + the iTunes checkout system, could truly become a payment method for many of us. Users are already familiar and comfortable with purchasing things via iTunes, and as we look to use alternatives to cash, checks, and even credits cards – it makes sense that Apple provides this. With a re-vamped iTunes that COULD hold not only users credit cards but also loyalty points and credits. And, lucky you! You’ll also be getting targeted ad through your phone for discounts and deals! It would not surprise me if we see Apple partnering or buying a ‘Groupon’ or ‘LivingSocial’ type service to deliver local ads and daily deals based on your buying preferences and history with iTunes, account profile and location. This effectively turns iTunes into a financial service. It also will help tame the fees VISA, MASTERCARD, AMEX and the rest have been charging for years.

NFC-enabled phones are still relatively unknown in the U.S., although they have been popular for years in Japan and other parts of Asia. A phone with NFC capabilities simply needs to pass within 4 inches of a receiving device to transmit account data for a purchase. In that sense, it’s just like the credit card in your wallet, except it doesn’t need to be swiped through a machine. My bet – we will see this in the new upcoming iPhone 5 this summer, perhaps as soon as July, 2011.

LTE capable iPhone = 10 Mbps speed is coming – faster than a speeding bullet!

LTE ( Long Term Evolution) – Verizon’s LTE field trials in Boston and Seattle have shown downlink average rates of 5 to 12 Mbit/sec and of 2 to 5 Mbit/sec, which will give mobile customers browsing speeds comparable to a typical wired home Internet experience, the company said. More than likely we will see this around this summer with the release of the iPhone5.

How wonderful is that. The problem is that once you have that kind of speed to use, you’ll use it alright. And especially with video. That’s just what Verizon and eventually ATT want. Why? Because they won’t have ‘unlimited’ bandwidth plans anymore for mobile – they will meter – http://bit.ly/hO .

And they will have to. Not only will you be bale to use this for sending and receiving video, pictures and other data, but you’ll be able to make crystal clear VOIP calls using software on your phone – thereby getting around the minute usage meter. But you can figure that the carriers will simply meter bandwidth and replace metered minutes with metered bandwidth. I’m not sure which is worse but I guess it will depend on whether you talk, text or tweet (which is really 2nd gen texting anyway)?