The future of media storage an access is here, and it’s called the cloud. What might strike some as more shocking than the idea that we live in an era where you can access files you own from multiple devices anywhere you go, though, is that it looks like Amazon might have beat monolithic Apple to the punch with adopting a technology, and the ripples my edge Android phones and other non-Apple products ahead with music lovers.
Amazon’s big idea is that instead of sitting on your computer, your music collection will sit online ( or “in the cloud,” as hipsters insist on saying). That way, you can listen to it from any computer — at home, at work, at a friend’s — by logging into a special Web page called the Amazon Cloud Player.
You can also listen to anything in your music collection on an Android phone. No copying or syncing of music is ever required; all your songs are always available everywhere, and they don’t hog any storage on the phone itself.
The Cloud Player is a simple, clean, polished music-playback page that looks vaguely like iTunes. It’s dominated by a list of your songs, which you can sort and search. The album art shows up. You can drag songs into playlists. You can play back a song, album or playlist, complete with Shuffle and Repeat functions. You can download songs to your computer (they go directly into iTunes or Windows Media Player). Sound quality is excellent (the streaming is the full 256 kilobits a second of the original files, if you’re into that sort of statistic).
The Cloud Player may prompt users of Apple’s iTunes who mainly use Amazon for music downloads to make a more significant move to the online retailer’s music services, said Eric Garland, chief executive officer of BigChampagne Media Measurement, a Beverly Hills, California-based music-tracking company.
“They designed everything they do in that category to work pretty much seamlessly with iTunes,” he said. “They’re answering what I’m sure are their customers’ requests to make backup access to media and use of multiple devices a simpler and more transparent process.”
“There was a game of chicken going on,” said Aram Sinnreich, a media professor at Rutgers University. “These are uncharted waters and really a gray area legally. Personally, I think that basic ‘locker’ storage space should not require a license from the record labels, but they’ll probably disagree.
“So Amazon is doing the dirty work for Google and Apple by going first,” said Sinnreich.