Thursday, April 07, 2011

Amazon Launches its Cloud Media Player, Beating Apple and Google last week launched its cloud media player and storage locker, beating Apple and Google to the punch. Once you upload music to your Cloud Drive or "locker" (or buy it from Amazon), you can play it on your computer or other device. The Amazon Cloud Player works on all Web browsers, the company says, and can also be used on Android mobile phones or tablets by downloading an application.

The Web version of the cloud player gives you get 5GB of storage space free, and if you buy one MP3 album from the company, you immediately get upgraded to 20GB (which you'd otherwise have to pay for).

Note: Amazon calls the 20GB upgrade with an album purchase a one-year "trial;" in other words, if you load up your "locker" with more than 5GB of media, a year from now you'll have to pay to keep all that stuff there, or pay for an upgrade. Unless of course Amazon decides to make 20GB the normal limit for free storage. Or maybe they'll extend your "trial" if you keep buying MP3 albums from them; it's not clear.

Apple has been said to be working on a cloud music service based on its existing MobileMe platform, which now charges $99 for 20GB of storage, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times. As the article points out, Amazon could have a good competitive advantage by being first: once users start uploading their music or movies to a cloud-based system, they'll probably tend to stick with that one.

I signed up for the Amazon Cloud Player the day it went live, though I can't really say I've given it a test run. I haven't tried uploading any music from my computer, though I have bought some singles and one MP3 album from Amazon since then, which I have downloaded to my computer as before; they are automatically stored in my "cloud" as well. It's pretty easy to use and intuitive, as you'd expect from Amazon.

One potential dark cloud (sorry!) for Amazon's new service: it may run afoul of record companies since it hasn't secured additional licenses for the streaming, says an article in Wired. "If the record labels don’t come to a licensing agreement with Amazon soon, they will either be forced to take legal action or implicitly allow other music companies to ditch cloud licenses too," the website says.

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