March 29, 2011

Amazon Surprises Rivals With New Cloud Music Player

Users are now able to play songs across a number of different devices through Amazon Cloud Player, which acts as a storage or "locker" for digital downloads.

Songs can be downloaded from any store "“ iTunes to Amazon "“ and stored in the locker to be uploaded and listened to via Cloud Player on any computer or Android phone. However, there is no support for Apple's iOS, yet.

"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," says Bill Carr, Amazon's vice-president of music and movies. "Now whether at work, home, or on the go, customers can buy music from Amazon MP3, store it in the cloud and play it anywhere."

The internet retailer surprised rivals Apple and Google, which are rumored to be developing similar systems for music streaming.

AudioBox and mSpot are some of the smaller number of cloud music services in existence today, but Amazon is the first big technology company to launch such a service, reports the BBC.

Apple bought the online service Lala at the end of 2009, which leads to speculations that the company would launch its version of the cloud for iTunes along with the re-launch of its MobileMe platform.

Google has more than one cloud service through Gmail and Google Documents, but is also thought to be testing a music storage system.

Sony's Music Unlimited has a similar service, but requires users to pay for any storage space.

Rights owners are not happy with "the idea of a one-off payment each time a track is played on any device," reports Reuters.

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has an online music site called Beyond Oblivion, which is proposing to pay rights holders a royalty each time their music is played. Reuters reports that negotiations with music labels are in the advanced stages, but is yet to launch.

By storing music in a "locker," Amazon has sidestepped legal uncertainties about uploading music from users' computers.  Amazon Cloud Player acts as a virtual hard drive.

"We don't need a license to store music. The functionality is the same as an external hard drive," says Amazon director of music, Craig Pape.

Amazon Cloud Player is a free service for Amazon account holders, but users can pay for more storage. Account holders are given 5GB of storage space, which holds approximately 1,200 songs. They can upgrade to 20GB of storage with the purchase of the MP3 album.


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