As expected, Amazon has officially announced its online digital media locker, Amazon Cloud Drive, along with its streaming service, Amazon Cloud Player for Web and Amazon Cloud Player for Android. The Cloud Drive system allows music, video, documents and photos to be uploaded to Amazon's storage, with 5GB available free (and 20GB if you buy an album from Amazon MP3); Cloud Player then streams MP3 and AAC (including DRM-free iTunes tracks) to PC/Mac, mobile devices and tablets.
One advantage is that Amazon does not require users to actually purchase their digital content in order to store it online. However, if you buy your music from Amazon MP3, keeping it on Cloud Drive won't count against your overall limit.
Streaming is done at the original bitrate of your files, which means - if you have the bandwidth - high-quality tracks should still sound the same, and you can buy additional storage from $20 per year (see gallery for details). Apple and Google are expected to launch similar services themselves, but Amazon at least gets its offer out of the gate first.
Introducing Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Player for Web, and Amazon Cloud Player for Android
Buy anywhere, play anywhere and keep all your music in one place
Start with 5 GB of free Cloud Drive storage – upgrade to 20 GB free with purchase of any MP3 album
SEATTLE – March 28, 2011 – Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced the launch of Amazon Cloud Drive (www.amazon.com/clouddrive), Amazon Cloud Player for Web (www.amazon.com/cloudplayer) and Amazon Cloud Player for Android (www.amazon.com/cloudplayerandroid). Together, these services enable customers to securely store music in the cloud and play it on any Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC, wherever they are. Customers can easily upload their music library to Amazon Cloud Drive and can save any new Amazon MP3 purchases directly to their Amazon Cloud Drive for free.
"We’re excited to take this leap forward in the digital experience,” said Bill Carr, vice president of Movies and Music at Amazon. “The launch of Cloud Drive, Cloud Player for Web and Cloud Player for Android eliminates the need for constant software updates as well as the use of thumb drives and cables to move and manage music.”
“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,” Carr said. “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.”
Store Music for Free
Customers automatically start with 5 GB of Cloud Drive storage to upload their digital music library, and those who purchase an Amazon MP3 album will be upgraded to 20 GB of Cloud Drive space. New Amazon MP3 purchases saved directly to Cloud Drive are stored for free and do not count against a customer’s storage quota.
Adding Music to Cloud Drive
Amazon’s easy uploading process makes it simple for customers to save their music library to their Cloud Drive. Files can be stored in AAC or MP3 formats and will be uploaded to Cloud Drive in the original bit rate. Customers can hand-pick particular songs, artists, albums or playlists to upload or simply upload their entire music library.
Cloud Player for Web
Customers who have a computer with a Web browser can listen to their music. Cloud Player for Web currently supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari for Mac, and Chrome. Cloud Player for Web lets customers easily manage their music with download and streaming options. Customers don’t need to worry about regularly updating software on their computer to enjoy music, and Amazon MP3 customers can continue to use iTunes and Windows Media Player to add their music to their iPods and MP3 players.
Cloud Player for Android
Cloud Player for Android is now bundled into the new version of the Amazon MP3 App; it includes the full Amazon MP3 Store and the mobile version of Cloud Player. Customers can use the app to play music stored on their Cloud Drive and music stored locally on their device. Features include the ability to search and browse by artist, album or song, create playlists and download music from Cloud Drive.
Customers never need to worry about losing their music collection to a hard drive crash again. Files are securely stored on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) and each file is uploaded to Cloud Drive in its original bit rate. Customers can buy music anywhere and know that their MP3s are safely stored in Cloud Drive and accessible from any device.
Store More than Music
Cloud Drive allows customers to upload and store all kinds of digital files; music, photos, videos and documents can be stored securely and are available via web browser on any computer. In addition to the 5 GB of free storage, customers can purchase storage plans starting at $20 a year for 20 GB.