In its latest step outside of retailing, Amazon.com ( AMZN) is providing a Web-based data storage service. Called Amazon S3, the offering will give software developers access to the same infrastructure used by the Seattle-based company. They'll pay Amazon 15 cents per gigabyte of data stored and 20 cents per gigabyte of data transferred. "Amazon S3 is based on the idea that quality Internet-based storage should be taken for granted," says Andy Jasay, vice president of Amazon Web Services, in a statement. "It helps free developers from worrying about where they are going to be able to store data, whether it will be safe and secure, if it will be available when they need it, the costs associated with server maintenance, or whether they have enough storage available." Amazon's announcement comes less than a week after Google's ( GOOG) interest in developing a similar product was accidentally divulged by the search-engine giant. Amazon's move also is the latest sign of Chief Executive Jeff Bezos' interest in expanding the reach of the company he founded in 1994 beyond sales of books and DVDs. Amazon has other product lines, including Web services. Applications built using Amazon Web Services, which began in 2002, include a podcast transcription service. Amazon also is preparing to take on Apple Computer's ( APPL) wildly popular iTunes site, according to media reports. The company is talking to movie studios about its plans to launch a digital-download service. Whether Amazon's digital push will excite investors remains to be seen. Amazon is being hurt by growing competition from rivals including Wal-Mart ( WMT). In addition, consumers are becoming even more price conscious, thanks to the popularity of so-called comparison-shopping search engines. Shares of Amazon, off 24% this year, rose 19 cents to $36.38.