Amazon Looks to Take Bite out of Apple, iTunes With Cloud Storage Service

Jeff Bezos announces launch of Amazon Cloud Drive, Cloud Player

Amazon announced a new cloud music service on Tuesday for customers looking to manage their digital music — a move that, for once, puts Jeff Bezos out in front of Steve Jobs and iTunes.

Bezos announced the launch of the Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player in a letter to customers posted on Amazon.com.

"Managing a digital music collection is a bit of a mess," Bezos wrote. "It's possible to buy music from your phone, but then it might get stuck there. It's possible to buy music from your work computer, but then you have to remember to transfer it to your home computer. Most people just wait until they get home and do their purchasing from there. What's more, if you're not regularly backing up your music collection, you can lose it with a disk drive crash."

The Cloud Drive will allow customers to store anything — music, movies, video, documents — in Amazon’s datacenters. Storage prices are $1.00 per gigabyte — ranging from $20 per year for 20 GB of storage to $1,000 for 1,000 GB.

To entice customers to store stuff on Amazon's cloud, Bezos is giving customers 5 GB of free Cloud Drive storage. Amazon is also offering 20 GB of free storage to customers who purchase an MP3 album from the Amazon MP3 Store.

For its free Cloud Player, Amazon is offering a web browser-based version ("no software to install," a thinly-veiled swipe at Apple's iTunes) and an app for the Android smartphone. Amazon is not launching an app for iPhones, iPods or iPads — not that Apple would allow one, anyway.

Apple has been in reported talks with major record labels ("Apple Mulls Unlimited Downloads of Tracks on iTunes") to allow unlimited downloads of songs people buy on iTunes — allowing customers to link purchases for their iPads, iPods and iPhones to the same iTunes account, and to permanently back up their purchases. (Apple’s iTunes is the world’s largest music retailer, and claims “69 percent of all digital downloads in the U.S.,” but does not currently allow unlimited downloads of purchased music.) Apple's unlimited download service would launch this summer, according to a recent Bloomberg report.

Amazon's service — essentially data storage — would not appear to need approval of record labels.

Here's Bezos' letter in full:

Dear Customers,

Managing a digital music collection is a bit of a mess. It's possible to buy music from your phone, but then it might get stuck there. It's possible to buy music from your work computer, but then you have to remember to transfer it to your home computer. Most people just wait until they get home and do their purchasing from there. What's more, if you're not regularly backing up your music collection, you can lose it with a disk drive crash.

We're solving those problems today with two important offerings: Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player. Cloud Drive is your personal disk drive in the cloud. Anything you put in Cloud Drive is robustly stored in Amazon’s datacenters. You can upload your music collection to Cloud Drive, as well as any other digital documents.

Cloud Player comes in two varieties: Web and Android. All you need is a computer with a web browser and you can listen to your music with Cloud Player for Web — no software to install — just a web browser. The Android version is an app that lets you do the same thing from your Android phone or tablet.

Combined, these services allow you to store your music worry-free in the cloud and enjoy it anywhere. When you buy any of the 15 million songs in the Amazon MP3 store, you'll now see a new option to put your purchase directly into your Cloud Drive.

To start, we're giving you 5 GB of free Cloud Drive storage. Plus, new purchases from the Amazon MP3 Store are stored for free and do not count against your storage quota.

We're excited to offer you the ability to buy anywhere, play anywhere and keep your music in one place.

Enjoy and happy listening,

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO

P.S. You can use Cloud Drive for more than music. Store your photos, videos, documents, and whatever you'd like, in the cloud.