Amazon Cloud Service Goes To War Against Apple & Google
Today Amazon stepped up and made their Cloud Storage & Player service more competitive with unlimited storage and an iPad app. Is it enough?
It wasn’t long ago Amazon beat everyone to the punch with their online music storage / streaming service Amazon Cloud Drive along with the Amazon Cloud Player.
In a nutshell, Cloud Drive is a storage service offering just about anyone 5 GB of storage for free. Additional capacity was available at various rates (20 GB @ $20.00 and more at $1 per GB) but if you purchased any full MP3 album from Amazon you were automatically upgraded to the 20 GB level for a year.
Another great thing about this was that nothing you purchased through Amazon’s MP3 store counted toward your total storage although for everything else you had to spend the time and bandwidth to upload it.
The Amazon Cloud Player was a technology that allowed you to play back your collection on the Cloud service from just about any browser and even though your smart phone. There was no official iPhone support at first but it worked just fine through the browser.
After that announcement, Google made their move into the arena with Google Music Beta.
Another storage service that was free with an obscure limit of “20,000 songs” and again, you need to upload anything you want on the service for playback through a browser or apps that haven’t materialized yet but I’m sure Google will be bringing them out. The product is still in early Beta and the few reviews of it haven’t been terrible but haven’t been glowing either.
Apple all along has been known to be working on some sort of music storage and streaming service and at WWDC about a month ago they announced iCloud. A service meant to sync all aspects of your digital life to all your devices. Documents, video, music, pictures all automatically syncing amongst your devices and the iCloud service. All automatic, all free.
Part of this would be something called iTunes Match.
iTunes Match is a service that will allow you to mirror your iTunes library on iCloud which you will be able to access from any device you have registered with your Apple ID account for a $24.99 yearly fee.
Not so exciting? Wait for it: You will be able to mirror up to 25,000 tracks into iCloud and you won’t have to upload a thing (probably). Match will scan your iTunes and check then check in the massive iTunes Library. If a ‘match’ exists already, the service will add a 256Kbps, DRM-free iTunes version of that song into your iCloud storage no matter what quality version you have already. The other aspect of this is that iTunes Match doesn’t give a crap how that file got on your computer and into your iTunes. To put a fine point on this: No matter where it came from: ripped from CDs or illegally downloaded from the internet iTunes Match doesn’t care.
In the situations where iTunes doesn’t have a copy of that song in it’s catalog it will upload your copy for you to be able to access from any of your devices anywhere in the world with internet access.
Most everyone agrees that Apple was able to make the deals they needed with the record labels with the simple explanation of “Well, you aren’t making any money from the stuff that’s out there illegally, we’ll give you some money.”
With the iCloud / Match option you could feasibly save yourself weeks of uploading your collection. In all cases, the advantage is that suddenly you don’t have to worry about the size of your portable device as long as it can connect. You can now have 20,000 songs available to you anywhere at anytime.
BACK TO AMAZON’S ANNOUNCEMENT:
In a move to bring the attention back to them (although I don’t think anyone is paying attention to Google Music and iCloud is just getting rolling) they’ve announced Unlimited Music Storage for any level account and an optimized iPad app for their Cloud Player.
Here’s what their press release had to say:
Unlimited Space for Music
Now, for a limited time, Amazon customers who purchase a Cloud Drive storage plan will receive unlimited space for their MP3 and AAC (.m4a) music files. This offer is available for even the lowest price plan: $20/year for 20 GB of file storage plus unlimited space for music. Customers can visit (www.amazon.com/clouddrive/manage) to purchase a Cloud Drive storage plan and receive unlimited space for music.
Store all Amazon MP3 Purchases for Free
Customers can now store all of their Amazon MP3 purchases for free in Cloud Drive, including future MP3 purchases as well as all purchases made before the launch of Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. MP3s purchased from Amazon MP3 and stored in Amazon Cloud Drive will not count against a customer’s storage quota.
Cloud Player for Web on iPad
Also new, Cloud Player for Web on iPad. Cloud Player, combined with unlimited space for music in Cloud Drive, enables customers to play music stored in the cloud on any Android phone, Android tablet, Mac, PC, and now on their iPad. Cloud Player for Web has been optimized to offer customers streaming playback of their Cloud Drive music using the Safari browser for iPad. To access Cloud Player for iPad, customers simply open their Safari browser and visit (www.amazon.com/cloudplayer) to start listening to their music.
Storage for Music and More
All customers automatically start with 5 GB of free Cloud Drive storage to begin uploading their digital music library, and for a limited time, those who purchase any Cloud Drive storage plan will receive unlimited space for music at no additional cost. In addition to unlimited space for music, Cloud Drive allows customers to upload and store all kinds of digital files, including photos, videos and documents which are stored securely and available via web browser on any computer. Customers who qualified for 20 GB of free storage from earlier promotions will receive the unlimited space for music at no additional cost.
Is it enough to bring the attention back to Amazon’s Cloud? The Player is nice enough and it’s a bonus for buying MP3’s through them but that’s about it. The storage space sounds good but how will it work for me? How will I use it to back things up or will I just dump things up there from time to time ‘just in case’.
The beauty to me of iCloud is that it’s an integrated service. Across all your devices, across your windows or mac computers and into the cloud it will sync your life and give you storage. It should be automatic and that’s the beauty of it.
Having music storage and a good streaming player is great from Amazon but it’s not enough to compete toe-to-toe on the storage angle but we’ll see what Amazon adds into the mix next. They did give their Prime Members full access to their streaming TV and Movie Service so they could do something more with storage.