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Amazon Cloud Drive challenging Apple's iCloud with unlimited music storage

post #1 of 29
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Amazon announced Wednesday a promotion offering unlimited music storage to users who purchase a Cloud Drive storage plan, heating up competition before Apple's fall launch of its iCloud and iTunes Match services.

The online retailer revealed three enhancements to its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services in a statement Wednesday: storage plans that include unlimited space for music, free storage for all Amazon MP3 purchases and an iPad version of Cloud Player for Web.

Customers are already enjoying Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and now for just $20 a year, customers can get unlimited space for music, said Craig Pape, Director of Amazon Music. Additionally, we are adding free storage for all MP3s purchased from Amazon MP3, and support for the iPad. Our customers love Cloud Drive and Cloud Player and were excited to innovate these services on their behalf.

The unlimited music storage applies to all premium Cloud Drive accounts, which start at $20 a year for 20GB. Users who qualified for 20GB of free storage from an earlier promotion will automatically receive the unlimited space for music. Amazon offers 5GB of free space to all Cloud Drive users.

The addition of an iPad-friendly Amazon Cloud Player is a step back in Apple's direction, though no mention is made of iPhone or iPod touch compatibility. Cloud Player originally launched for the Web and Google's Android mobile OS, without direct support for iOS and Mobile Safari. In May, iOS users reported being able to access the Cloud Player, despite the fact that full compatibility had yet to be officially announced.



Whereas only new Amazon MP3 store purchases were automatically added to Cloud Drive when the service first launched in March, now all digital music purchased from Amazon will be added to the drive. The retroactive support for previously purchased music appears to indicate that Amazon has resolved any conflicts with the music industry of its service.

Apple is planning a similar move with its iCloud service, and offered the first taste of its cloud strategy last month with the release of iTunes 10.3, which allows re-downloading of music, apps and books purchased on iTunes and the App Store. When iCloud arrives in the fall, the service will provide complimentary storage of music, apps and books purchased from Apple. However, unlike Amazon's Cloud Drive, iCloud does not stream music.



Amazon reportedly opted for an 'ask forgiveness, not permission' strategy with Cloud Drive, surprising music labels with the announcement of the service. Music industry sources said Amazon only addressed the issue of negotiating licenses after launching the service, leaving some industry members to view the service as illegal.

Google launched a beta of its own music service in May. However, the search giant was unsuccessful in negotiating new licenses with major music labels and has yet to open a full music store as originally planned.

Amazon and Apple will likely compete for subscribers with their respective Cloud Drive and iTunes Match services. Amazon's cloud offerings require manual uploading of non-Amazon music files, but also offer streaming, and start at a lower price of $20 a year. On the other hand, iTunes Match costs $25 a year and will scan and match users' iTunes libraries with songs available in the iTunes Music Store. Matched songs will then automatically be available for download in iCloud, and the small portion of unmatched musical will be uploaded. Like Amazon, Apple will offer 5GB of free storage for iCloud users.
post #2 of 29
Unlimited could work if they actually start using delta encoding as a systemwide service.
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post #3 of 29
iCloud and Amazon Cloud Player are quite different. Amazon streams music whereas with Apple you sync the music to your device.
post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

iCloud and Amazon Cloud Player are quite different. Amazon streams music whereas with Apple you sync the music to your device.

iCloud also has a lot of other features. Features that competitors can't easily compete with. Heck, they already couldn't make a proper MobileMe competitor and now that they've added so many additional features including API for App Store devs I can't see how others will be able to compete with it except for some singular features.
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post #5 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

iCloud also has a lot of other features. Features that competitors can't easily compete with. Heck, they already couldn't make a proper MobileMe competitor and now that they've added so many additional features including API for App Store devs I can't see how others will be able to compete with it except for some singular features.

"Owning the whole widget"

iCloud is deep into iOS 5 and Lion. There's little that surface technology like Amazon's cloud services can do to compete with iCloud.
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post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by hmurchison View Post

"Owning the whole widget"

iCloud is deep into iOS 5 and Lion. There's little that surface technology like Amazon's cloud services can do to compete with iCloud.

Speaking of that (kinda), I wish Apple would update Dashboard in Lion. They've given it the default option for making it its own Space, but that's about it. Now they already back up to MobileMe and .Mac before it, keeping not only the data, but which Dashboard Widgets you have on your display and how they are spaced.

What I'd have liked to see is 1) The Weather Widget having an option to use the new Location Data in Lion so you don't have to manually update the widget, and 2) having the option for both the Stocks and Weather widget settings to carry over between devices (if you so wish.

The third things I want may be possible with the iCloud API. Meaning, an iOS App Store app that could be synced via iCloud's API to a free Dashboard Widget. They have iAds so they could make a Widget SDK that they could monetize.
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post #7 of 29
I just uploaded 4 songs to Amazon to test out this service and it seems to work fine. It does what it's supposed to do, and playback is pretty quick. It takes about 1 second after you hit play and then the song starts playing. I'm not sure if I'll pay to upgrade, but I'm not going to complain about my 5 gigs for free, streaming to anywhere.
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I just uploaded 4 songs to Amazon to test out this service and it seems to work fine. It does what it's supposed to do, and playback is pretty quick. It takes about 1 second after you hit play and then the song starts playing. I'm not sure if I'll pay to upgrade, but I'm not going to complain about my 5 gigs for free, streaming to anywhere.

Copy a song in your local library that you already uploaded, then upload that copy. Is it near instant or is uploading it again as a new file?
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post #9 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

iCloud and Amazon Cloud Player are quite different. Amazon streams music whereas with Apple you sync the music to your device.

Yes, so I control when all that data flows on a wi-fi connection rather then 3G. And all my music is local at 256bit quality rather then streamed at some terrible rate.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Copy a song in your local library that you already uploaded, then upload that copy. Is it near instant or is uploading it again as a new file?

It didn't let me upload it again.

I duplicated one of the songs which I had already uploaded. The duplicate had a different filename, it had "copy" at the end.

When you go to upload your songs, the app that starts up scans your songs and I guess that it recognized that the copy which I made was already uploaded so it didn't bother uploading it again.
post #11 of 29
So if I pay Apple for iTunes Match for one year $25, download the iTunes Plus version of the song, and then cancel my service the next year, do I still keep the ability to download those "purchased" songs again in the future even without paying the $25???
post #12 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radjin View Post

And all my music is local at 256bit quality rather then streamed at some terrible rate.

That's funny, the stuff I was just streaming was 320kbps.
post #13 of 29
I just don't see the appeal of all this "cloud" crap. The moment you're without web access, you're dead.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

 

Get the lowdown on the coming collapse:  http://www.cbo.gov/publication/45010

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post #14 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I just don't see the appeal of all this "cloud" crap. The moment you're without web access, you're dead.

+1

Local access is a MUST.
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post #15 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlando View Post

iCloud and Amazon Cloud Player are quite different. Amazon streams music whereas with Apple you sync the music to your device.

At the moment. However, Apple never gives aways their full hand so who knows what will happen.

And if I recall correct, the whole iTunes Match service is about streaming. Just via a common library rather than making everyone upload the same tracks over and over all because they didn't buy it from itunes (or Amazon in the case of the Cloud Drive)
post #16 of 29
For U.S. Customers Only

It appears that you are attempting to use Amazon Cloud Player from outside the U.S. This service is intended for U.S. customers only.

Maybe someone will remember that over 50% of the world's customers don't live in the US?
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by dybmapi View Post

For U.S. Customers Only

It appears that you are attempting to use Amazon Cloud Player from outside the U.S. This service is intended for U.S. customers only.

Maybe someone will remember that over 50% of the world's customers don't live in the US?

Or over 95%... Maybe that is the reason. Got to buy a lot more HDDs to extend the coverage to be worldwide with unlimited plans and all. Easier to cater to 4+% of the world population.

Regs, Jarkko
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I just don't see the appeal of all this "cloud" crap. The moment you're without web access, you're dead.

It's appealing if it's in addition to device local storage. Say I have a 64Gig iPad, with 20Gig of music and 40Gig of video, but I own another 100gig of music and terabyte of video. Eventually with a Cloud whenever I have wifi I'd have access to the entire library - which would be pretty nice.

Amazon unfortunately are only offering unlimited space for AAC & MP3, so there goes my plan to upload my terabytes of FLAC files
post #19 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I just don't see the appeal of all this "cloud" crap. The moment you're without web access, you're dead.

Then you don't understand cloud computing. It's for back up and sync, every piece of data isn't stored only in the cloud and only streamed on demand, just data which isn't already on or synced to your device. Not being able to access that remotely stored content is no different to any other concept - if you need more than is on your device you need access to it.

Also to point out that Amazon's offering is in no way competition to iCloud - iCloud is about a lot more than music storage. Where is the photo syncing? document and music playlist syncing, syncing of keychains, settings, dock icons, web favourites..?
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by nkhm View Post

Then you don't understand cloud computing. It's for back up and sync, every piece of data isn't stored only in the cloud and only streamed on demand, just data which isn't already on or synced to your device. Not being able to access that remotely stored content is no different to any other concept - if you need more than is on your device you need access to it.

Also to point out that Amazon's offering is in no way competition to iCloud - iCloud is about a lot more than music storage. Where is the photo syncing? document and music playlist syncing, syncing of keychains, settings, dock icons, web favourites..?

That's how you and Apple understands cloud computing, and that's how I see it as well. Most notably, the data is on your devices, several of them, and different ones. The cloud service tries to keep those devices in sync, including app state, the page of the document you are editing etc. Every device keeps as much of the data as it is reasonable for it (e.g. the phone or the iPad has only the latest or specifically selected stuff, the desktop Mac has it all). Every device processes the data with an app which best fits the device capabilities, and the functionality of the desktop app may (and most often will) exceed the options available on the iPhone.

Many other parties, including Google and Amazon see it differently. For Google, to achieve basically the same result, the best way is to have all your data AND the apps on their server, and access them from different devices, possibly keeping local cache for offline work. Amazon does the same, but it only has a music app (Why so many people think it is the most important thing in the world? Because of the iPod success few years ago? I mean, most of us are happy having their 1000 songs always with them and do not pay a s***t for online streaming).

The big difference is that with Google approach, you are totally locked. Get rid of Google and lose all your photos and documents. With Apple, you just lose the convenient syncing - all your data is with you, and it is up to you to sync it manually from there on or to go with a different service, if/when available. Apple will try to keep you, but the only way for them to do so is to keep better service (better as more user friendly, or better price/features or whatever meaning you put into this). This is somewhat the opposite of the "walled garden" cliche, but that's how I see it.

Now, the financial analysts have yet another understanding of cloud computing. For them, this is a service that has the word "cloud" in it, or the company behind it says it is "a cloud". From there on, there is no difference what the actual benefit of the "cloud" is.
post #21 of 29
Not even sure why Amazon are bothering.

iCloud will be rolled out to every iOS device that upgrades (which will be a sizeable bunch), and every iOS device in the future, and Lion.

So on day 1, Apple will have 10m+ users putting every other "cloud" service to shame. (Albeit everyone has a different definition).

But the average punter is just going to read the baseline figure "Apple has 40m iCloud users etc".

I suppose Google can fight back and call everyone of their Gmail accounts a "cloud" user, but we'd expect that from Google these days in their continual willy waving contest.
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post

I just don't see the appeal of all this "cloud" crap. The moment you're without web access, you're dead.

Am I missing something? I have internet on my iPhone 24/7 anywhere I go. Don't the other billion iPhone users have it too?
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

Am I missing something? I have internet on my iPhone 24/7 anywhere I go. Don't the other billion iPhone users have it too?

Yes, you are. Consider:
  • I am on a cheap data plan - €5, or about $7 per month, with 256 MB data cap. When I reach the data cap, the speed is crippled to EDGE speed, no matter 3G available or not. Good enough for mail, which is my top priority.
  • I travel a lot, and data roaming is expensive. EU promises no roamig within EU after 2014, but this is few years away. Then there are still countries outside EU.
  • I have 16 GB iPhone 4 and 64 GB iPad. All music and photos I want with me are on the device. Why would I need to stream them?

While at work or at home, in most of the café I am visiting, there is WiFi, so I am OK with the data cap. Well, I could use streaming over WiFi, but why? because I can? What is the benefit?

I think with iOS 5 and iCloud Apple gets the right approach. If I take photos with my phone, they are synced automatically. If I create a document with Numbers, it is synced.

I think there is an obsession with the term "cloud" right now. When Steve introduced the iPad, he said that the main question they asked themselves was "what it does better". And, he said, if there is nothing it does better than an iPhone or a computer, there is no reason it should exist.

The same question should be asked about the "cloud", whatever in each particular case it means. The difficult part is, it seems, that people can't give an honest answer. They tend to invent use scenarios that seem to justify the need for some sort of "cloud", like music streaming in particular, but it is far stretched. There ARE users that might care, but they are a small minority. During the best iPod days Apple reported that only 5% of the music on iPod is purchased. This is approximately the addressable market for streaming music IMO. That is, SOME of those 5% will consider using it. If this SOME ands up to be 50% (highly unlikely), we end up with 2.5% of all users. That's fine, but when you look the attention this gets in the press and in financial analysis, and the impact on the stocks of the tech companies, you wonder what the hell is going on?
post #24 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

Am I missing something? I have internet on my iPhone 24/7 anywhere I go. Don't the other billion iPhone users have it too?

Don't get out into nature much? Although I don't necessarily like listening to music in the Columbia Gorge, local storage is pretty much the only way I can.
post #25 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by success View Post

Am I missing something? I have internet on my iPhone 24/7 anywhere I go. Don't the other billion iPhone users have it too?

I have unlimited phone data but not everyone has that. Also iCloud should eventually be more than just streaming music so wifi access is pretty important if you are trying to do some work. I use iDisk a lot right now between the office and home and especially on the road, using my MBP. For me music is secondary since all the music I want to listen to is already on my iPhone, although internet radio is nice to have too. I do have 3G data on my MBP as well as my iPad. It is good to have options.

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post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by EUiPhoneUser View Post

Yes, you are. Consider:
  • I am on a cheap data plan - 5, or about $7 per month, with 256 MB data cap. When I reach the data cap, the speed is crippled to EDGE speed, no matter 3G available or not. Good enough for mail, which is my top priority.
  • I travel a lot, and data roaming is expensive. EU promises no roamig within EU after 2014, but this is few years away. Then there are still countries outside EU.
  • I have 16 GB iPhone 4 and 64 GB iPad. All music and photos I want with me are on the device. Why would I need to stream them?

While at work or at home, in most of the café I am visiting, there is WiFi, so I am OK with the data cap. Well, I could use streaming over WiFi, but why? because I can? What is the benefit?

I think with iOS 5 and iCloud Apple gets the right approach. If I take photos with my phone, they are synced automatically. If I create a document with Numbers, it is synced.

I think there is an obsession with the term "cloud" right now. When Steve introduced the iPad, he said that the main question they asked themselves was "what it does better". And, he said, if there is nothing it does better than an iPhone or a computer, there is no reason it should exist.

The same question should be asked about the "cloud", whatever in each particular case it means. The difficult part is, it seems, that people can't give an honest answer. They tend to invent use scenarios that seem to justify the need for some sort of "cloud", like music streaming in particular, but it is far stretched. There ARE users that might care, but they are a small minority. During the best iPod days Apple reported that only 5% of the music on iPod is purchased. This is approximately the addressable market for streaming music IMO. That is, SOME of those 5% will consider using it. If this SOME ands up to be 50% (highly unlikely), we end up with 2.5% of all users. That's fine, but when you look the attention this gets in the press and in financial analysis, and the impact on the stocks of the tech companies, you wonder what the hell is going on?

you can also download all your amazon songs to device if you choose.
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by screamingfist View Post

you can also download all your amazon songs to device if you choose.

Yes, I can. But that's the point: what I can do with Amazon's cloud that I can't do WITHOUT it. There are some benefits having it, especially for some people other than me, but is it a big deal?

Remember the topic of this thread: "Amazon Cloud Drive challenging Apple's iCloud with unlimited music storage". Is this the battlefield right now? The storage limit? Is it REALLY a challenge? I don't think so.
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by grmac View Post

Don't get out into nature much? Although I don't necessarily like listening to music in the Columbia Gorge, local storage is pretty much the only way I can.

When I'm out in nature the last thing I care about is the cloud and streaming. Everything is shut OFF. If you can't live without that stuff for a while you have more important problems to worry about. I have unlimited data and can pretty much get reception anywhere except in places where I'm hiking. Last thing I need is to talk to people at work or stream my party photos while I'm out trying to get away from just that. Maybe by "getting out much" you mean climbing Mt. Everest or meditating in Tibet or something.
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

iCloud also has a lot of other features. Features that competitors can't easily compete with. Heck, they already couldn't make a proper MobileMe competitor and now that they've added so many additional features including API for App Store devs I can't see how others will be able to compete with it except for some singular features.

Not the least of which is because (at least on idevices) Apple wouldn't approve an app that offered these competing services.

Take Cloud Drive for example. On an android phone/tablet it offers streaming and downloading options, and you can toggle the service to automatically download new album purchases to your phone after they've transferred them to the cloud.

The tech for them to offer locally hosted music is there. The problem (as I see it) is that Apple wouldn't allow this on their iDevices because it directly competes with the itunes/icloud ecosystem.

Personally, I prefer how Google handle's local/cloud a little better (Pinning is a lot more intuitive than "deleting" content from a device) But Amazon's service isn't bad.

You're right that no one will ever be able to compete with Apple when it comes to icloud on idevices, but I don't think it will be because they don't have the technology, just not the access.
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