July 7, 2011
Amazon is looking to compete against Apple's upcoming iCloud service before it even officially gets off the ground. Amazon's Cloud Drive has been a good start, however, newly released features of Amazon's 'cloud' service make it bigger and better for those hoping for music on the go. Foremost, those who've been a loyal Amazon shopper in the past can now store their previously purchased Amazon MP3s on their Cloud Drives without it counting against their storage space allotment. This change is an expansion upon the previous limitation that only Amazon MP3 purchases made after Cloud Drive came online would be stored for free. Although, that isn't the real slap to the face to Steve and company. Amazon's true enticing move is offering unlimited music storage -- beyond Amazon MP3 purchases -- to all Cloud Drive subscription customers. Again, this is not valid for the free 5GB accounts, but works with all of the paid offerings. Cloud Drive premium accounts start at 20GB for $20 per year and climb up to 1,000GB for $1,000 per year. The new policy means all non-DRM AAC and MP3 files basically become a file size of zero megabytes. Therefore, payment of $20 per year allows you to store any amount of music you want, plus up to 20GB of photos, documents, music, and movies. If you do have older DRM-protected iTunes songs, you can upgrade them using the iTunes Plus feature for e discounted price. And the final announcement is that Amazon has optimized their Cloud Player for Safari on iPad. Quickly navigate, play, delete, and manage songs and playlists on the go. For those unaware, Safari on iOS 4 can handle background audio, allowing music playback while checking your email, creating a document, viewing photos, and more. This isn't a direct competition to "iTunes in the Cloud," including iTunes Match, but it may be an alternative MobileMe and potential iCloud users will strongly consider. A couple big disadvantages of true 'cloud' music is the need to have a constant quality Internet connection and possible additional charges, such as cellular data plan fees. We'd like to hear your thoughts. Is this a no brainer iCloud alternative or do you the two services differ enough that they have their own uses, and could even be companions?