As previously mentioned, Amazon was indeed planning to formally announce their “media locker” service this week. The company has rushed their cloud based service offering in an effort to beat Apple and Google to the market.
The new service offers some very good features. However, Amazon has left out support for iOS devices, which is a huge chunk of the current mobile population and one that will grow without a doubt throughout 2011.
Amazon has officially released a cloud service that consists of a few things. First, Cloud Drive allows you to store a minimum of 5GB of files on the web for free. Amazon also offers purchase storage plans starting at $20 a year for 20 GB. The company offers tiered plans for 50GB, 100GB, 200GB, 500GB and 1TB, which will set you back $1 per year for every gigabyte of storage.
The Cloud Drive storage service allows you to upload your digital music library from any Mac or PC. If you purchase an Amazon MP3 album, you will be upgraded to 20 GB of Cloud Drive space. Any new Amazon MP3 purchases saved directly to Cloud Drive are stored for free and do not count against your storage quota. The storage service also allows you to upload and store all kinds of digital files – music, photos, videos and documents that will be available via web browser on any computer. Amazon supports storing your files in AAC or MP3 formats, and the company will upload those files to Cloud Drive in the original bit rate.
But, what about playback options for your music files? Amazon offers Cloud Player for Web and Cloud Player for Android. Basically, the company has implemented an online player for those customers who plan to use the service with a Web browser from their computers. The player supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari for Mac, and Chrome. Notice there is no official support for mobile Safari.
Some could argue that Amazon is deliberately blocking mobile Safari. As reported by TechCrunch, some users have been able to play songs in an iOS device by simply selecting the “download” option from the Cloud Player. That option downloads the music file and uses mobile Safari’s built-in player to play it. However, not the way you would want a service to work on a iOS device.
The Cloud Player for Android has been bundled with the new version of the Amazon MP3 app, which includes the full Amazon MP3 Store and the mobile version of Cloud Player. With this option Android users can use the app to play music stored on their Cloud Drive and music stored locally on their device.
You might be thinking, why not release an iOS app to do the same thing for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch? This would simply compete with Apple’s iTunes Store, and as we all know, Apple will be releasing a new cloud service via MobileMe very soon.
Amazon has won Round 1 with their new cloud storage service. Even though the company dropped a big bomb on their rivals, Apple and Google are gearing up for Round 2. Expect both companies to be ready. I would think that Apple will be unveiling some very attractive features soon.