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Amazon Cloud Player plays music from the cloud, beats Apple and Google to market

March 29, 2011 | 12:06 pm

Amazon launched a cloud-based music storage and playback service, called Cloud Drive and Cloud Player, on Monday in a step that is putting it ahead of rivals Apple and Google.

GettingStarted_TCG._V184037123_ The new service allows users to store their music library into an Amazon Cloud Drive (which can store other types of files and data too) and playback their music using Amazon's Cloud Player which is available on the Web and in the form of an app for Google Android phones and tablets.

So far, however, Amazon's Cloud Player isn't natively compatible with Apple's iOS devices such as the iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch.

As Times reporter Alex Pham noted Tuesday morning on our sister blog Company Town, the launch of Amazon's Cloud Player service could soon be met with competing systems from Apple and Google. From Pham's report:

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 knowledgeable 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.

The launch of Amazon Cloud Player presents another challenge to Google on its home turf -- the Android operating system.

Amazon has beaten Google in being the first to offer a cloud-based music player for its Android devices, a move that follows the launch of the Amazon Appstore, a Web and Android-based store for Android apps and a rival to Google's own Android Marketplace.

The Amazon Cloud Player is also another effort from the Seattle-based company to create new revenue streams, having largely built its business on the sale of physical books and CDs through its retail website.

Amazon is more and more becoming a company that is in the business of online content, and not just selling physical goods. Last month, Amazon added movie streaming as part of the its Prime membership service in a bid against Netflix and Hulu.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Video: Epipheo via YouTube

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