Amazon Debuts Cloud Player, Cloud Drive with Free 5GB

By Wesley Fenlon

Amazon has announced a free cloud storage and playback solution, beginning with 5GB of storage and offering streaming music from the cloud to any Android phone.

Amazon threw the music world an utterly unexpected and killer curveball last night in the form of Amazon Cloud Player, a new music streaming service build right into the Amazon MP3 Android app and itself. The Cloud Player would be cool all by itself, but the kicker is the Cloud Drive, a free storage outlet for your personal music collection (or any other files you want to cram in there) to the tune of five gigabytes.

Cloud Player is directly tied into your Amazon account and any music purchases you make. As an added bonus, the songs you download from Amazon’s MP3 store going forward won’t count toward your 5GB or 20GB storage limitation--they’ll be stored for free. After that year of free storage at the 20GB level, Amazon will either extend the promotion or (more likely) ask for some cash for storing all your junk in a system with reported 99.999999999% file durability. All of Amazon’s price tiers are a buck a gig--an annual $20 for 20 gigabytes, $50 for gigabytes, on up to 500GB for $500 and 1000GB for $1000.

Cloud Player and Cloud Drive use a flash-based web interface for playing music and uploading/managing files. It seems odd that there currently isn’t a large button switching you between the two interfaces, but the interfaces are unsurprisingly similar. Using the Amazon MP3 Downloader in conjunction with the Cloud Player is the fastest way to upload music en masse, while Cloud Drive gives you a Flash upload dialogue and default folders for music/photos/docs etc.

Once that music is securely in Amazon’s cloud storage, it’s streamable to an Android device via the Amazon MP3 app. iOS compatibility is a murkier issue--while Cloud Player can play music just fine in browsers that have Flash disabled, it won’t play in the iPhone’s browser. And since there’s no Amazon MP3 app on iOS--Apple wouldn’t take too kindly to that--the current workaround is to download the songs via the Cloud Player and listen to them that way. Amazon seems to be blocking mobile Safari--does that mean Apple has a music locker of its own to show off this summer?
With a solid web app and Android support in place on day one, Amazon's cloud services offer an incredible value at the best price: free. Let's see if they follow up with improved iOS support and a desktop app for Cloud Drive. Our dream feature? Dropbox integration.
Image via flickr user craigmdennis