The Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player got a facelift on June 6, upgrading their service to grant users access to unlimited storage for their music, as well as a new iPad Cloud Player.
Cloud storage has revolutionized the computing industry in the past few years. Enabling individual computers and devices to be liberated of heavy data storage capabilities is a major plus; it also allows businesses to streamline their processes and decrease their costs by moving data and server activity to the Cloud instead on in-house.
A cloud-based service will still need a storage facility that will host the data being stored, as well as net-based applications to service the users and facilitate the data upload/download/streaming. Normally, storage facilities are housed in data centers, of which there are thousands all over the world. Google has around 40 data storage centers in 2008; that number has increased exponentially since then, with the advent of cloud computing and storage.
Now, Amazon users can buy a yearly Cloud Drive storage plan for $20 and get unlimited music storage (for MP3 and AAC/.m4a formats). Before, Amazon Cloud users started out with an automatic free 5GB of storage, which could be upgraded to 20GB if they bought an MP3 album from Amazon. More storage space cost $20 per every 20GB of space per year. Obviously this is a great improvement in terms of value and storage space.
Amazon’s biggest competitor, Google Music Beta, gives free music storage for as many as 20,000 song titles; they may offer subscription plans eventually. Currently, the Google Music Beta is by invitation only, and is only accessible to US users.
Apple also plans to launch a music storage offering, iTunes Match, later in the fall. This will enable iTunes users to back up as many as 20,000 of their non-iTunes music into the Apple iCloud for an annual subscription cost of $24.99.
Amazon’s service has some features the other services do not offer, such as photo, video and document uploads into the Amazon Cloud, but the unlimited storage promotion is only applicable with music files. The company does not give any further information about how long this promotion will last.
Also, Amazon MP3 purchases will be stored for free on the Amazon Cloud Drive, as well as any purchases made prior to the launching of the Amazon Cloud. These MP3 purchases do not count toward the user’s Cloud Drive storage space. Any users who qualify for the 20GB of free music storage from any of their other promos will also get the unlimited music space for no extra charge.
In other Amazon Cloud news, they also released a Cloud Player for Web app for iPad. The capability to play music from the Amazon Cloud Drive was previously limited to Android phones and tablets, PCs and Macs; now, iPad users can play their tunes from the Amazon servers just as well as they can play those actually stored on the iPad itself. It must be noted that iPhone and iPods were excluded from the announcement, which indicates that another expansion may be in the near future.