Amazon Responds to Apple's iCloud With Music Storage Upgrades, iPad Player
Earlier this year, Amazon launched its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services, offering users the ability to store music and other digital content on Amazon's servers for access from a variety of Internet-connected devices. With Apple's iCloud announcement last month, some have been wondering whether Amazon might tweak its offerings to compete with iCloud.
In response, Amazon today announced several changes that do exactly that, expanding the music storage capabilities of its Cloud Drive service and launching an iPad-optimized Cloud Player. Among the specific changes:
- Unlimited music storage with any paid plan: Users signing up for any paid storage plan, including the lowest tier priced at $20 per year for 20 GB of space, automatically receive unlimited storage space for music in MP3 and AAC formats. The change leaves the full paid storage amount available for other content such as photos and documents. This offer is available for a limited time.
- Free storage of all Amazon MP3 Store purchases: Most applicable for those users opting to stick with the free 5 GB plan, Amazon will now store all past and future Amazon MP3 Store purchases free of charge and without counting toward the 5 GB limit. The feature had previously been limited to purchases made since the debut of Cloud Drive and Cloud Player.
- Cloud Player for iPad: Amazon has launched an iPad-optimized web player for music stored through the Cloud Drive service. Despite a lack of official support for iOS devices until now, Amazon Cloud Player has been partially functional, but the new changes should significantly increase usability for iPad customers.
The "iTunes in the Cloud" component of iCloud is partially active now, allowing users to automatically download newly-purchased content to all iCloud-enabled devices and to support easy re-downloading of previously-purchased iTunes Store content. The full iCloud service is set to debut later this year alongside iOS 5, and will provide users with 5 GB of free storage, not including purchased music, apps, books, and Photo Streams. Additional storage will be available at as-yet unannounced prices.
The full iCloud launch will also see the debut of iTunes Match, a $24.99/year service that will allow users to store their entire music collections in the cloud for syncing across devices, either by matching to iTunes Store tracks or by uploading directly into the cloud.