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Amazon Cloud Player

Online storage and playback of your music and video collection

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Keeping my head in the cloud

  • Mar 30, 2011
Amazon yesterday released their Cloud Drive and while it's not apparently very different to Microsoft's Skydrive or Google Apps file storage, is nonetheless a major step in the direction of cloud-based excellence.

For full disclosure, I'm the author of the book Google Apps Express, and I'm frequently seen on other media ranting on about how much I like the cloud, in between of bouts of being disappointed that this isn't all happening more quickly.

So what is the cloud?

The cloud is a catch-all loose term for technological applications and storage that don't reside on your computer (or your network). You probably already use it all the time, from remote email services such as Gmail to shopping sites like Amazon.com (or even Lunch.com, arguably). The beauty of the cloud is that nothing has to be stored on your side of the equation - you just open a browser and you're ready to go. The cloud can be used to run programs, buy CPU time or store your documents - and amazingly, it does all this much better than you can do it on your machine or network.

Are you trying to sell me a book?

You mean this book? The benefits of the cloud are actually a little more subtle when you dig under the covers:
  • Google and Amazon can store your data more reliably and more securely than you (or a corporation) could. Since they're in the business with armies of security engineers, I guarantee you they do a better job than people who are not. It's seriously hardcore, and I'd bet that not a single other Fortune 500 company could do a better job.
  • If you need scalability, the cloud is your answer - since you only pay for CPU time and bandwidth, then you only pay for the things you use rather than piles of computer hardware. Also called elastic computing, this is actually fantastic if you have websites that suffer from arbitrary demand spikes. As an example, the Wikileaks supporter group Anonymous tried to attack Amazon and couldn't bring it down - even though they tripped over Mastercard with no problems at all (priceless).
  • You no longer have to worry about backups, since many of these services provide highly sophisticated real-time duplication of data invisibly.
What does this have to do with Cloud Drive?

Cloud Drive lets you store any type of digital content with up to 5GB for free. The reason it's different to other services is actually because it's more music-friendly because of additional software they provide. Between the MP3 uploader and Amazon MP3 app on Android and iPhone, it's very easily to scan your computer for all your music, upload it and then consume it from anywhere.

The reason that's different to iTunes is that they don't police the content. So if you own CDs, it's trivial to burn them and send the MP3s whizzing into the cloud. iTunes doesn't allow this and Steve Jobs will have his hounds sent to your exact GPS location in 10 seconds if you try to operate outside the big fruit's ecosystem. Amazon is just happy to be stretching their legs.

But it's not just about music - you could put anything on the Cloud Drive, subject to usual caveats about classified documents, porn and the as-yet-unreleased final final Harry Potter. So it's a perfect backup system, even if you don't believe me about the reliability of their infrastructure versus your lone laptop you've entrusted with the family's entire history of photographs.

Why is this exciting?

Although I rarely listen to music, I think the cloud is a major development in computing, probably the biggest since the Interwebs made everyone addicted to watching cats playing pianos. It means you can access your information anywhere and on the vast majority of Internet-connected devices without needing a Computer Science degree to figure it out. It also means you stop losing files when the cat playing the piano knocks over a diet soda onto your hard drive.

Amazon.com has a seriously robust platform behind the shopping site, and I think this signals the beginning of the cloud reaching new heights... which is a terrible analogy, but since it's all free I urge you to try it out. And yes, I have been listening to music in my car using my Droid running the Amazon MP3 app and I didn't send a dime to Apple - hurray! Though I think I just heard some growling at the front door.

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March 31, 2011
pretty sweet write up. Not sure how this would help me since my head is usually in the gutter LMAO!!
March 31, 2011
Gutter computing is next :-D
March 31, 2011
Ha, I like your cloud/height analogy! This seems like a totally random move for Amazon... but cool anyhow! Thanks for all of the info!
March 31, 2011
Thanks! Actually I think it's just an extension of their existing elastic computing platform rather than something out of left-field, but we'll probably see other big players trying to get into the space soon.
March 31, 2011
Bravo! Another enlightening and humorous review (that's quite a combo, eh? ;-)). Just what I need. Actually, I've been trying out Google Apps just the past 2 weeks. So far so good! I bought my e-books from Kobo, is your book available for e-reading?

No policing on Amazon? Oh boy, that's good news for the Chinese market, LOL... I'm sure they'll get plentiful new users in no time! Shhhhhh....
March 31, 2011
Thanks, Sharrie - I'm getting my book Kindle-ready, which is much more awkward than it looks. Why they can't just take the print-ready PDF is beyond me, but anyway...

The news seems to indicate that Amazon is going to get sued by everyone in the music industry, but they're just retreading the classic issue on whether platform providers are responsible for content. My feeling is that they'll win and the music industry will once again be reminded that digital is not going away. China, of course, has probably had this technology for ages!
March 31, 2011
When company gets big, they think they can do anything they like. This is similar to the recent Baidu (China's version of Google and one that had a much bigger share than Google in the Chinese search engines) infringement of copyright on books. Some people really believe that content is not worth payment and yet they survive by capitalizing precisely on those content!!!
March 31, 2011
Which takes me to another interesting service I had been using lately. Do you know that you can access newspapers all over the world through your library's e-resources? Including Herald Tribune and Wall Street Journal (all for free)?
March 31, 2011
That's good to know! Free is the right price.
More Amazon Cloud Player reviews
review by . April 07, 2011
posted in Awesomeness
Amazon's Cloud Drive & Player
Once again Amazon blazes a new trails for digital content. First was the Kindle and books have never been the same since. Buying a new book is now just a few keystrokes away and mere seconds before it is in your hands. Now we have Amazon's Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. User's get 5 FREE gigabytes of content storage in the Cloud Drive, and MP3s purchased (or free) from Amazon do not count towards this limit. Buy an album (can go as low as $.69) and get 20 GB of storage in a year long trial. …
Quick Tip by . March 29, 2011
With Amazon offering free cloud storage for any music purchased through Amazon as well as 5GB of storage for free, Amazon has the first compelling reason to switch from iTunes. However, from my limited testing, I was not able to stream music from the "cloud" to my iPhone directly. I imagine that it's only a (short) matter of time before that gets resolved.
Quick Tip by . April 07, 2011
posted in Ubergizmo
Right now, Amazon's Cloud Player only supports MP3 and M4A (AAC) non-DRM music files under 100MB in size. That may change in the future however, and any file format can be stored n you Cloud Drive.
About the reviewer
James Beswick ()
Ranked #8
Lunch.com's "token Brit".
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