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Can Amazon.com knock Apple off its digital music perch? The Seattle online retailer sure is trying to make inroads against its larger rival, and the company’s latest effort is Cloud Drive. The new digital music storage service allows users to store their personal collections in the cloud, and then access the songs (or videos for that matter) from various computing devices: Android phones, Android tablets, Macs or PCs. (Sorry, no iPhones or iPads).

Managing personal music and video collections online has become a pain, and Cloud Drive could be a game changer. Reports are already circulating that Amazon’s service beats Apple and Google to the punch in cloud-based music storage services.

“Our customers have told us they don’t want to download music to their work computers or phones because they find it hard to move music around to different devices,” Amazon.com’s Bill Carr said. “Now, whether at work, home, or on the go, customers can buy music from Amazon MP3, store it in the cloud and play it anywhere.”

Previously: Amazon vs. Apple: Emergence of the next great tech rivalry?

Edward Baig at USA Today — who has been testing the service for the past six days — notes that the new service pretty much works as advertised despite a few occasional glitches. Meanwhile, The Wall Street Journal quotes a Sony Music executive who said the record label is disappointed that the new service from Amazon uses unlicensed Sony Music.

Here’s how it works.

Amazon.com customers are given 5 GB of Cloud Drive storage for free — enough to store about 1,000 songs in the cloud. Then, once a customer buys an Amazon MP3 album, they are upgraded to 20 GB of free space. (You can also buy more storage, see chart below).

Dubbed a digital locker, the new storage service essentially allows music lovers to store their favorite tunes in a centralized spot and then access them on various devices. That’s been the holy grail for many in the music business for some time, and a number of players have made efforts to get there over the years.

The new Cloud Drive service not only could have implications for Apple — Amazon.com’s main rival — but also smaller services like Rhapsody which helped popularize music streaming.

Unlike Rhapsody, the tunes stored in Cloud Drive are actually “owned” by the user.

Seattle startup HomePipe Networks, which just raised $1.1 million, also is operating in the space. Seattle-based RealNetworks is preparing to launch its Unifi cloud-based personal media management service. Google is also reportedly testing its Google Music service for storing and playing digital tracks.

In addition to Cloud Drive, Amazon also announced Amazon Cloud Player for Web  and Amazon Cloud Player for Android. The services work together to allow customers to listen to their music collections on various devices.

Pricing on Cloud Drive could get expensive as more music is added

 

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