This is a big one, folks. Amazon has just declared outright war on iTunes. Earlier today the company sent out a press release announcing the launch of Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. The Cloud Drive is an online storage system for music, movies and pictures. 5 GB is totally free, and you gain an extra 20 GB free the first time you purchase an Amazon MP3 album. The Cloud Player allows you to access your media from any Mac, PC or Android device.
It seems Amazon has finally hit upon a music retail / consumption solution that rivals iTunes for utility. And the press release is littered with mean little barbs against the current leading online music storefront. Like this one:
"The launch of Cloud Drive, Cloud Player for Web and Cloud Player for Android eliminates the need for constant software updates as well as the use of thumb drives and cables to move and manage music."
That wasn't the only dig either-
"Customers don't need to worry about regularly updating software on their computer to enjoy music, and Amazon MP3 customers can continue to use iTunes and Windows Media Player to add their music to their iPods and MP3 players."
This is a crafty bit of PR wordsmanship. First, Amazon assures us that their service will be free of cumbersome updates. Immediately after, they mention Windows Media Player and iTunes. It's hard not to read into that.
Amazon's Cloud Player certainly sounds like a solid system for keeping your playlist together across a variety of devices. The ability to get 5 GB of free storage for nothing but a registration isn't bad either. But the "20 GB free with one album purchase" deal isn't quite as good as it sounds. With Amazon's Cloud Drive service, you purchase data on a yearly basis. Buying an album only gets you 20 GB free for one year.
In subsequent years, you'll need to either pay up or lose your extra data. Amazon's also selling additional 20 GB slots for $20.
The most brilliant feature here is the fact that Amazon MP3 albums do not count towards your data storage limit. Meaning consumers now have a very compelling reason to buy from Amazon, rather than Apple. Cloud storage is extremely useful, but also expensive for large amounts of data. Free cloud storage for your Amazon-bought media, plus another (2)5 GB free works out to one hell of a deal. iTunes users are about to find their loyalty sorely tested.