Amazon launched its cloud based music system yesterday, storing your multimedia files in your Cloud Drive and playing back audio with the Cloud Player. Kinda but not so surprisingly, Amazon beat out competitors like Apple, Google, and Spotify to a cloud based music locker to make your tunes portable.
What’s good? Amazon did a great job documenting and explaining their new Cloud service including step by step instructions. Every user automatically gets 5GB of storage for free and it’s easy to get more space. You can pay $1 per GB per year or simply buy an MP3 album from Amazon and get upgraded to 20GB for one year. And since Amazon has a bunch of deals on MP3 albums, it’s not hard to find something for $2-5 to get this one-year upgrade. Now what happens after your one year upgrade is over, I don’t know. Say I save 10 GB of music in my Cloud Drive and in one year, I revert back to a freebie 5-GB account, do I now have to pay? Amazon says no, but what then happens?
Back to the good. Any Amazon MP3 Store purchase doesn’t count against your Cloud Drive quota:
When you save your Amazon MP3 Store purchases directly to your Cloud Drive, they don’t take up any of your storage space and are always stored for free.
Uploads to Cloud Drive are speedy, and the MP3 Uploader app does a good drive scanning your computer for music files to upload, including unprotected iTunes purchases. I opted to upload a playlist of 147 songs which would take up 0.5 GB of space. The app estimates time remaining for uploads and provides good status feedback. Not too bad but…
Now for the bad. No playback for iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad. Android yes, Apple no. So far, I can’t easily tell how I upload individual songs using the MP3 Uploader app. By default, your music is grouped and displayed in playlists and by artists. I’d like another way to view my music so I can select which songs to upload. The Uploader app is tied your login status with Amazon. If something happens to that connection, the Uploader app stops working. My overnight upload stopped for some reason, and it looks like I had to log back in to Amazon’s web site before the Uploader started working again.
And my biggest peeve is the clunkiness. Yes, Cloud Drive and Cloud Player work, but it doesn’t feel as elegant as it could be. You have to install some software on your computer to playback and upload files. That’s understandable but gives a pieced-together sort of feel. Amazon’s implementation masks the different parts well, but you still get a sense of the different components working individually, not harmoniously.
So while Amazon is first to the cloud-based music locker, the battle is far from over. Apple definitely can penetrate this market with an elegant implementation leveraging the breadth of iTunes. Then coupled with AirPlay to share (not file share) your files locally, Apple could have a more compelling service. Still though, Amazon’s service is a great step forward for your music, photos, and videos. Where ever you’re connected, you can get to these files. This freedom is liberating.