So Amazon has beaten both Google and Apple to the punch in the race to be the first kid on the block to offer cloud-based music storage and streaming, despite the fact that Google has pretty much owned the cloud space (Gmail, Google Docs), and Apple has controlled MP3 sales (iTunes – duh).
But today Amazon has made Cloud Player available to the general public, which will allow users to stream whatever music they store in their Amazon Cloud Drive to any PC, Mac or Android phone on which it’s installed. Not too shabby, really. The first 5 GB of music storage is free, with paid plans starting at $20/year for 20 GB and going as high as $1000/year for 1000GB, which is nuts. Of course, music purchased at Amazon.com doesn’t count towards your quota, so as long as you’re really not addicted to iTunes for purchases, it’s a pretty damn sweet deal.
When you first check it out, Amazon asks you to install the Amazon MP3 Uploader, which will find eligible files on your hard drive (DRM-free MP3s and AACs only) at the expense of installing the Adobe Air framework. But you CAN avoid installing it by going directly to the Cloud Drive page and clicking on the “upload files” button. Nice: I like to avoid installing more “helper” software whenever I can.
One assumes Google and Apple won’t sit idly by and let Amazon own this space, and the lack of an iPhone app leaves the door wide open for Cupertino, but this is still a coup for Bezos and Co.