Amazon launches an iPhone app, uh where was this on Black Friday?

Amazon makes a killing during the holidays. It’s obvious why: They have nearly everything you could want to buy or get someone as a present, and you can get it without having to step foot in an insanely crowded retail store. And starting today, it’s a little easier to do that online shopping, thanks to Amazon’s new iPhone application.

Called Amazon.com, the free app lets you browse Amazon (and its over 9,000 merchants) for what you want to buy just as you would on the website. But the app is much slicker than simply a port of the Amazon browsing experience. As you might expect, the product pages are tailored for the iPhone. Search is also integrated very nicely and the results pages are much easier to see than if you’re browsing Amazon.com on the iPhone’s web browser. And because you can sign in to your Amazon account on it, you can do things like one-click buying and saving items to your wish lists.

But the slickest part has to be the new “Amazon Remembers” feature. The feature lets you take a picture of something with the iPhone’s camera and then save it so you can remember to buy it later. But that’s not all. Using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk program, which uses people to match a picture with a product, the app can find whatever it is you took a picture of and link it to the way to buy it in the Amazon store (if available).

I just tried it out by taking a picture of my bottled Starbucks Frappuccino coffee drink. Within minutes, I had a way to purchase a 12-pack of the very same Frappuccinos from Amazon. Brilliant.

For some products, this Mechanical Turk process will apparently take up to 24 hours, according to The New York Times’ Bit blog. But for me this solves two problems. First, remembering things I’m considering buying while at a store but don’t want to buy on the spot. And second, finding a potentially much better price for said product.

My only question is: Where on Earth was this app on Black Friday? I bet a lot of shoppers would have loved to have this “Amazon Remembers” feature available to them while they were at retails stores at 4 in the morning debating buying that new $1,000 television. Shouldn’t the ultimate shopping app have been available on the ultimate shopping day?

Also, having the Amazon store on the iPhone reminds me of one glaring omission: Amazon’s MP3 store. Of course, Apple would never allow Amazon to sell MP3s on the device, which are generally better priced than they are in the iTunes store — and are all DRM-free — but a guy can dream, right?


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