Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Amazon Launches Locker To Store Streaming Music

A cloud-based streaming-music locker has been launched by Amazon.com, and Apple may be forced to respond. Amazon launched a trio of services -- Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Player for Web, and Amazon Cloud Player for Android. An analyst said Amazon's move and possibly a service from Google could hurt Apple's iPhone.

Amazon.com on Tuesday did something not even Apple and Google have done yet -- launched a cloud-based streaming-music locker. Although rumors have swirled around an Apple cloud-based streaming service since the iPod maker acquired Lala in 2009, a streamable iTunes service has yet to appear. And although news reports signal Google's music service is in the testing phase and could launch soon, Google is still not competing in the market.

Amazon launched Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Player for Web, and Amazon Cloud Player for Android (an Apple version is notably not part of the launch). Amazon says this trio of services sets the stage for customers to securely store Relevant Products/Services music in the cloud and play it on any Android phone, Android tablet Relevant Products/Services, Mac or PC. Uploading music to the Amazon Cloud Drive is free.

"Our customers have told us they don't want to download music to their work computers or phones because they find it hard to move music around to different devices," said Bill Carr, vice president of movies and music at Amazon. The launch of Amazon's new products, he added, eliminates the need for constant software updates as well as the use of thumb drives and cables to move and manage music.

Getting To Know Cloud Drive

Users get 5GB of Cloud Drive storage Relevant Products/Services to upload existing digital music libraries. If a user purchases an Amazon MP3 album, the storage is upgraded to 20GB. New Amazon MP3 purchases saved to Cloud Drive are stored free.

Users can store files in AAC or MP3 formats and the digital music will be uploaded in the original bit rate. Users can pick particular songs, artists, albums or playlists to upload or upload an entire music library.

PC users with Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari for Mac, or Chrome browsers can listen to their music. Amazon MP3 customers can still use iTunes and Windows Media Player to add music to an iPod or MP3 player.

Cloud Player for Android is bundled into the new version of the Amazon MP3 App. It includes the full Amazon MP3 Store and the mobile version of Cloud Player. Users can search and browse by artist, album or song; create playlists; and download music from Cloud Drive.

Forcing Apple's Hand

"The most significant conclusion I come away with is that this will probably force Apple to move forward with its yet-unannounced plans to do the same sort of thing," said Phil Leigh, a senior analyst at Inside Digital Media. "Apple can't let this move go unanswered because it will impact the demand for iPhones."

If the rumors about a Google music service are true, it would amplify Leigh's view. As he sees it, Amazon's Cloud Drive is a good idea that consumers are going to appreciate. If a cloud-based streaming-music service is only available on Android devices, it's eventually going to have a negative impact on Apple's iPhone, iPod and iPad Relevant Products/Services sales.

"This also underscores the need for continued progress in wireless broadband," Leigh said. "It will put even more wood behind the arrow for the FCC's movements to get spectrum allocated toward wireless Internet as opposed to television and other legacy wireless licenses."

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