Amazon Ups Cloud Ante With New Storage, Music Plays

Amazon, which set the cloud stage roughly five years ago with the launch of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) cloud computing play, is continuing its dominance in the growing cloud computing marketplace with the launch of Amazon Cloud Drive, a cloud-based file cabinet of sorts, and Amazon Cloud Player, a cloud music service.

In a letter posted on the homepage of, Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos introduced the new cloud services Tuesday.

"Cloud Drive is your personal disk drive in the cloud," Bezos wrote in the letter. "Anything you put in Cloud Drive is robustly stored in Amazon's data centers. You can upload your music collection to Cloud Drive, as well as any other digital documents."

The "other digital documents" that can be stored to Amazon Cloud Drive include photos, videos, documents and anything else users want to store in the cloud. Amazon said that files are stored on Amazon's S3 (Simple Storage Service) and each file is uploaded in its original bit rate.

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Meanwhile, Amazon Cloud Player comes in two distinct flavors: One for the Web and one for Google Android devices, which make it compatible with PCs, Macs and Android phones and tablets.

"All you need is a computer with a Web browser and you can listen to your music with Cloud Player for Web -- no software to install -- just a Web browser," Bezos wrote. "The Android version is an app that lets you do the same thing from your Android phone or tablet."

The service lets users upload songs purchased through Amazon or trough other online stores, including Apple iTunes and listen to them via Amazon Cloud Player.

The pair of new cloud services look to solve the problem of having documents, files and music stored in different places by offering access to them from any device with a Web connection, according to Bezos.

"Managing a digital music collection is a bit of a mess," he wrote. "It's possible to buy music from your phone, but then it might get stuck there. It's possible to buy music from your work computer, but then you have to remember to transfer it to your home computer. Most people just wait until they get home and do their purchasing from there. What's more, if you're not regularly backing up your music collection, you can lose it with a disk drive crash."

Bezos wrote that the goal is to let users store files and music in the cloud "worry-free" and enjoy it anywhere, regardless of where it was purchased.

Starting today, songs purchased with the Amazon MP3 Store will offer the option to put the purchase directly into Amazon Cloud Drive. Amazon is offering 5 GB of free cloud storage to users and said new purchases from the MP3 Store are stored for free and don't count against the storage quota. Amazon is also offering 20 GB of free storage for a year with the purchase of a full MP3 album. The cost of Amazon Cloud drive ranges from $20 to $1,000 based on the amount of storage. The cost is $1 per 1 GB of storage per year. Cloud Player is free to Amazon account holders in the U.S.

Amazon has been an up-and-comer in the digital music space, battling it out with incumbent Apple iTunes. With Cloud Drive and Cloud Player, Amazon gets an edge over Apple and iTunes, which has yet to launch a cloud-based music service, despite rumors circulating that Apple iTunes in the cloud would be Steve Jobs and Co.'s next big digital music breakthrough. Google, too, has been rumored to be working up a cloud-based music service for later this year. But in one fell swoop Amazon has stolen the thunder of its two biggest cloud and music rivals.

"We're excited to take this leap forward in the digital experience," Bill Carr, vice president of movies and music at Amazon, said in a statement. "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."

Carr continued: "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. 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."