For years, we’ve been discussing Apple’s huge datacenter in North Carolina and speculated about its purpose, waiting for that iTunes streaming service and storage subscription plan. Well, Amazon realized that we’d all gotten tired of waiting for Apple to announce their service and decided to launch their own service tied to its own cloud storage offerings.
There are actually two parts to their offering – Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. Cloud Drive is at the heart of this service, starting off with 5GB of storage for free. As a bonus, if you purchase a full MP3 album from the Amazon MP3 store, they up that to 20GB for one year, after which you can either keep the 20GB plan ($20/year) or drop down to the 5GB for free. They have plans for various levels up to a full terabyte of storage, and you can use the storage for anything you like – music, video, documents, photos, any kind of data basically. Not a bad option for offsite backups.
The second piece, the Cloud Player, can work directly from any web browser with no software to install – I’ll be testing over the next day or so to see if it can get through my work firewall, but I can already report it doesn’t work with iOS devices. If you have an Android-based device, you’re in luck – there’s an app that will run on your phone or tablet that will work the same as the web version. It will play music you upload from your computer, whether or not you purchased it from the Amazon MP3 store, and when you purchase MP3s from Amazon there will now be an option to load it directly to your Cloud Drive and add to your Cloud Player library.
As I write this, I’m uploading a selection of songs from my computer to the Cloud Drive and will test drive the player and its functionality cross platform. It appears to support custom playlists and random shuffle mixes, and gives you a nice count on the left side for number of albums, songs, artists, and genres – clicking on each will take you to a sorted list that you can dig through so you can see all the songs by a particular artist or genre. Most likely, they will be building in a recommendation service based on what songs you have in your library – that’s one thing Amazon has done well in their store overall, matching products to you based on previous purchasing history, so it would make sense that they would expand into a “Genius”-type application.
With Apple’s cloud-based iTunes service nowhere to be seen as of yet, Amazon appears to have an incredibly valuable head start right out of the gate. This is a service a lot of people have been asking for, and Amazon is happy to step up and deliver, hopefully driving more MP3 sales to their store instead of iTunes.
Update: My review is up showing my test drive of the Amazon Cloud Player, check it out here.