Cloud this, cloud that: everything has a cloud involved these days, from documents to email and now, music too, if Amazon has its way. From today, if you live in the US, you'll be able to access 5GB of free cloud storage from the company to store your favourite music -- or least favourite, if you prefer -- and stream it to your Android phone.
Our first reaction is that free is an excellent price, but 5GB doesn't sound like all that much space for music. Amazon, it seems, agrees, and people buying an MP3 album will be upgraded to 20GB storage for one year. Those not prepared to buy an album will be able to pay $20 (£12.50) per year for the same amount of space.
Even though it's more generous than the free account, 20GB still isn't enough space for most collections, especially those that contain much lossless music or are huge fans of 80s pop. There's no indication if more storage will be available at a later date, for more money.
Users can upload music from their existing collections via their computer, as you would expect. More interesting, though, is that your Amazon-purchased music will automatically be placed into your cloud drive. And even more impressive, these purchases won't use your space quota either.
Once your tunes are in the cloud you can use what's called the Cloud Player to access them on any device. Android phones are the first to be supported, but of course your PC is also more than capable of accessing the music too. As yet there's no mention of an iPhone app, and no clues as to how Apple will react to an idea that encroaches on its territory.
There have recently been rumours that Google would be launching its own cloud-based music storage service and shop in the near future -- indeed, some Android users running modified software were able to sync their music to the cloud, then stream it back to their phone or a computer. We've long assumed cloud storage would form part of Apple's next strategy too, although the company has never made any comment on the subject.
Amazon says it won't need special permission from the rights-holders to offer this service to you, although we're certain someone, somewhere will disagree via the court system at some point in the future. Don't forget that the record industry is stuffed full of greedy incompetents who are currently attempting to sue Limewire for $75 trillion -- more money than the music industry has made in its entire history.
While the service is currently only available in the US we can't see there being significant problems to it launching here in the UK soon. After all, it's not like Amazon has bothered to negotiate any complicated rights.