Amazon and Microsoft Open up to Apple’s iOS

Two Apple enemies have extended key offerings to iOS, knowing that supporting the iPhone can strengthen their cloud services — and perhaps limit Apple’s own efforts there. Amazon has ported its music Cloud Player to Apple devices, as it bids to take on iTunes; and Microsoft has released iOS tools for its Azure cloud environment.

Amazon is determined to lead the field in cloud content, whether in e-books, video or music, but most of its mobile-streamed media efforts have been concentrated on Android. It has its own Android app store, and when it unveiled the Cloud Player and Cloud Drive for digital music, these were targeted at the Google OS.

Amazon would not comment on whether it would develop an iOS version of Cloud Player, and there were obvious doubts over whether Apple would accept such a product in its App Store, given that the huge retailer has pipped it to the post with a cloud music offering, and threatens to challenge iTunes and its download model. With a showdown looming with Apple over restrictions on in-app purchasing, Amazon has played it safe for now, supporting Cloud Player through the Mobile Safari iOS browser rather than a dedicated app. This lacks the convenience and performance of the Android approach.

Controversy still rumbles over the licensing rights behind Amazon’s cloud-based music service. It argues that it does not need to negotiate new deals with music publishers as customers are storing music they own in the cloud and then streaming it to devices, rather than having licensed tracks streamed directly to their phones as in Rhapsody.

Over at Microsoft, the Azure toolkit, originally released for Windows Phone 7, has now been ported to iOS, and an Android version will follow, allowing these devices to work with cloud services based on Windows Azure. The vendor is making the toolkit and all the source code for the iOS version available via the Github Web hosting service. The tools can be used for iPhone and iPad applications developed using Objective-C and XCode.

Microsoft said the move will “make it easier to target Windows Azure by offering native libraries for non-Microsoft platforms.” Like last week’s alliance with RIM to support BlackBerry devices and services within the Microsoft cloud, the latest developments show a slow recognition at the firm that Windows will never be ubiquitous in mobile as it was in PCs, and its back-end platforms will need to open up to other popular client systems.

This article appeared in Wireless Watch.

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