Amazon Cloud Player
Let’s look at the first cloud music solution brought to us by Amazon. Cloud Player works hand in hand with Cloud Drive, the web-based storage platform created to deal with its cloud offering. With the service offering a browser based user interface, any internet connected PC or Mac will be compatible. At present Android seems to be the only mobile device platform supported by Amazon, although other platforms could be added shortly. The service provides customers with 5GB of storage space to get started, but users who make a purchase at the Amazon US MP3 store during 2011 will automatically be given a 20GB upgrade for a single year. Not bad. Perhaps this ‘deal’ is some kind of incentive to sway consumers away from Apple’s iTunes and over to Amazon’s MP3 store. I’m not sure that it will work like Amazon hopes, but it’s certainly a nice offer.
Also, Amazon has claimed that it will keep all your stored music online for a ‘lifetime,’ which where we come from means until you’re dead. Again, this is a nice feature – unless you plan on leaving your cloud storage to a relative, that is.
Unlike Apple’s determination to sign the big four record labels, Amazon released the service without obtaining any sort of legal deal with them. One stunned music executive was quoted saying that many in the industry questioned the service’s legality. The anonymous executive said: “”I’ve never seen a company of their size make an announcement, launch a service and simultaneously say they’re trying to get licenses,” said the executive.”
Unlike iCloud’s offering, there are no additional costs to upload your music sourced from elsewhere. Amazon simply charges if you need to expand on your cloud drive’s free capacity. The service will also allow you to re-download your MP3/ACC files to 8 devices.
Music Beta by Google
Just like Amazon, the current beta seems to have no legal backup from copyright holders. Launched at the Google I/O conference, the service hasn’t really set the world talking. With Adobe Flash powering the Android-centric platform at present, iOS devices go unsupported. It also seems, however, that Android devices are also the only method of re-downloading your content. In terms of storage, Google approaches capacity by the number of songs instead of storage space. With the ability to upload 20,000 songs there’s plenty of room to hide your embarrassing guilty pleasures. Just like Amazon, both MP3 and ACC files can be uploaded, with the lesser used WMA and FLAC formats also supported too. Unlike its rivals, users can’t purchase music via the system as Google has no music store to compete with iTunes or the Amazon MP3 Store, which could be a bad thing for the search giant depending on how you look at it.
iCloud and iTunes Match
The major difference between the iCloud service and its opponents is the lack of browser support. Apple once again has kept the walled garden gate shut by requiring users to be running iTunes (yes…even the Windows version) or an iOS device.
The idea behind iCloud and iTunes Match clearly leaves out streaming from the agenda, your music must be fully downloaded to play. This process is made much easier by the automatic syncing between the iCloud and your devices.
A big advantage Apple has over its rivals is that iTunes Match will literally match your non-iTunes music and download a high quality 256 kbps AAC version of the songs. Once again the iCloud service is free (replacing the paid-for MobileMe) with iTunes Match setting you back a yearly fee of $25.
By matching your files up with the limited 5GB, iCloud will then use an already in the cloud file (from the iTunes server) to push this to up to 10 of your iOS devices. This saves the hassle and time of large amounts of data being uploaded to the iCloud servers via end-users limited internet connection.
Without knowing Google’s future pricing plan it is hard to tell which one of these services I will use in the future but for right now I will stick with Music Beta by Google. I am doing this mostly because of the massive storage space allowed. I have around 4,000+ songs. Google’s offering allows me to upload 16,000 more songs. I uploaded all of my music to Amazon’s Cloud Player and have only 3 GB of space left. I cannot test out Apple’s offering because I do not have an iOS device. But Apple’s lack of streaming or being able to play my music in a web browser is a major buzz kill on the product for me.
But as the saying goes, to each his (or her) own. Let us know if you try any of these out and which one you like the most.