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Amazon launches Cloud Player music locker service [Updated]

Amazon Cloud Player Amazon catapulted ahead of its digital music competitors by launching a music locker service late Monday.

The service, called Amazon Cloud Player, lets users upload their music to an Amazon server and play songs from any Web browser or by using an application on mobile phones or tablets that use Google's Android operating system.

Apple Inc. and Google Inc. are rumored to be busy building a similar service but have not yet launched them. Apple's plans, which observers have dubbed SkyTunes, would involve the company's existing MobileMe cloud service.

MobileMe lets users upload documents and access them from any Web browser, but does not currently let users play music files. Apple has been negotiating with music labels and publishers to obtain the licenses that would allow music to stream from its servers, according to people at several major record labels.

Apple's plans for a locker service is viewed as a largely defensive maneuver to neutralize Google, which is negotiating with record labels for the licenses it needs to launch a music service for Android devices later this year, according to people knowledgable about the negotiations.

Amazon's announcement, however, beat both Apple and Google to the punch. And its service appears to be designed to compete aggressively with its slower-moving rivals. Its service gives users, for free, 5 gigabytes of music storage -- the same as the original iPod, which Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs touted as "1,000 songs in your pocket" when introducing the device in 2001. Customers who buy a digital album from Amazon's online MP3 music store would get 20 gigabytes for free for one year. It's unclear whether Amazon plans to charge for cloud storage after the one-year promotion.

Apple currently charges MobileMe users $99 a year for 20 gigabytes of storage.

Amazon also trumps Google by being first on Google's own Android operating system.

For cloud lockers, there is a slight "first-mover" advantage. Because users must upload their music collections to the locker, a process that can take hours if not days, they would be hesitant to switch services or subscribe to multiple clouds.

Although a dominant player in the sale of physical goods, Amazon is still ramping up its digital content business, which includes music, movie and game downloads. Amazon's 10% to 15% share of the digital music download market lags far behind Apple's iTunes' share of 70% or more, according to estimates by Lazard Capital Markets.

"Amazon’s move confirms that a land grab is playing out between Apple, Amazon, Google and, more recently, Facebook, racing to secure market share in all forms of digital media: music, videos, books and other content," Lazard analyst Colin Sebastian wrote Tuesday in a note to investors. "Critically, the common denominator for all these services is the requirement for a large-scale web-based infrastructure, which all of these companies possess. We believe that Amazon is particularly well situated here."

Updated: This post has been updated to include comments from Lazard Capital Markets analyst, Colin Sebastian.

-- Alex Pham







Comments () | Archives (14)

I'm not an audiophile, but I can't figure out how this an improvement over sites like Pandora.com or Grooveshark.com.

Have a look at the service offered by AudioGalaxy. It is similar, just missing the cloud aspect. Instead it streams the music from your home computer. Works well too!

As per their site, the cost will be $1 per GB (5GB free) in the following increments: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1000. The cost is annual.

This will undoubtedly be misunderstood and perceived as a threat by the RIAA. Not to mention Amazon, Apple and Google will probably also get the IP lawyers out for some patent claims. And how long before someone tries to use their size and clout to trademark (and inappropriately claim "ownership" of) the word 'cloud'?

I bought Kid A by Radiohead for $2.99 and became eligible for free storage of 20 GB for a year. Bought a few more MP3 albums. Amazon has been offering many wonderful MP3 albums for $1.99, $2.99, $3.99, $5, besides the usual offerings of slightly higher priced albums. My entire collection is less than 20 GB and as such I will not be buying anything from Apple's iTunes where discounted prices are almost unheard of.

Or you can use Ubuntu One for 39.99 a year. And it been out for a while

Um, didn't the courts rule this was illegal back when Napster was doing it?

Winamp had these way back in 2001 and they were shut down.

Next up Apple. They bought LALA.com which was cloud before the trendy term "cloud".

But Napster aint bad either nowadays. And Grooveshark but it suffers a bit from hipsteria type F syndrome. A bit tooo hipster. BUT a nicely done modern site.

Apple will swoop in later and do it the Apple way.

Key here is always that the USER or specifically the music lover never relinquish the enjoyment or seeking of music to companies or gadgets or trendy formats or new tech-fads.

This cloud music player stuff is just but another mere choice, see how it fits your life, remember its the music and how to fill your life with it, it should never be about the fads or the complications oh and of course - hear the music at its best quality! A valuable pursuit.

1) Pandora is like a radio station; you don't get to PICK which specific song you wanna hear. Amazon Cloud, you play your music when you wanna hear it.

2) Napster was allowing other people to GIVE their songs to other people. Amazon Cloud, you play only your own bought and uploaded music.

3) $39 year is a lot more expensive than free.

Not rocket science, folks . . .

Grooveshark has been doing this for the past two years or so, and doing it exceptionally well. The future is in simplicity and functionality, not out of the best way to wring cash out of a service.

One way in which Apple could leapfrog Amazon here is if they "auto-upload" everything you've purchased from iTunes to their servers. Of course, that means squat to people who have ripped CD's or haven't purchased much from iTunes. But, for the people who have some investments there, it would simplify the move to Apple's service, when it launches.

Wow, this is Such a fail, Amazon is such a stupid company. They have launched their music service, except they forgot something. They forgot that they never got any Licenses for any of the songs. So erotically Amazon's store is possibly illegal. They could be hit by waves of Media Companies Suing them.

Where as Google is working slowly and talking to the record labels, and the writers

Apple, I seem it is best not comment about...

For all these services is the requirement for a large-scale web-based infrastructure, which all of these companies possess.

iPhone/iOS users can already put their music in the cloud: mSpot has been offering a music cloud service since June 2010 (for Android) and since December (2010) for iPhone/iOS users. The service already has over 1.2 million downloads already. Full disclosure: I work with mSpot.


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