Comparison of Google's and Amazon's Cloud Services

Google’s Music: Beta cloud-based music service.
On Monday, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is expected to announce a new product that allows iPhone owners to stream music from their personal iTunes collections to their phones.
Rumormongers say the music will be stored “in the cloud” — tech jargon for “on Apple’s servers” – although the CultOfMac blog claims inside knowledge that Jobs will instead sell customers a personal storage drive that holds the music and does the streaming from home.
Whatever Apple announces, it follows recent offerings from Google and Amazon that offer cloud-based personal music streaming for Android phone users. Both work similarly: You sign up, then download an application to your Mac or PC that uploads your music collection to Google or Amazon’s servers, and keeps it in sync. To play your music on your phone, you install an Android app that’s a music player which connects to your cloud-stored collection to stream it to your phone.
Google Music is the more impressive of the two: It will automatically upload your personal iTunes collection, including any playlists you’ve created, and keep it in sync. It offers free storage for 20,000 songs, about twenty times Amazon’s free capacity. It stores your recently-played songs on your phone, so you don’t have to stream them again. You can also tell it which tracks from your collection to keep permanently cached on your phone.
Amazon Cloud Player has one advantage over Google: The company will sell you music to store on your cloud account. Google only lets you upload music you’ve bought (or bootlegged) somewhere else. Like Apple, Amazon sells a vast catalog of music for around a dollar per track. If you buy one digital album from Amazon, they’ll give you 20 gigabytes of free storage for a year—Amazon’s pricing is usually $1 per gigabyte per year beyond the free 5 gigs.
Like Apple, Amazon years ago stopped wrapping its downloads in copyright-protection software that keeps you from playing it outside of the computer on which you bought it. But neither Google nor Amazon will player older iTunes tracks wrapped in Apple’s digital rights management software, nor will they play the bigger “lossless” high-definition audio downloads Apple sells.
Both Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player work fairly well, although Google’s system is smarter about finding, say, an iTunes library stored on a removable drive. You can read longer reviews of Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player to get the finer details. Be warned that uploading your entire music collection to the cloud will take hours, possibly days, although you can play tracks as soon as they’re uploaded.
But both Google and Amazon point out a potential big shortcoming of Apple’s forthcoming cloud music. Neither Google nor Amazon offers an iPhone app. That locks out a lot of potential customers. Likewise, if Apple’s cloud player only works on the company’s iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches, that will lock out Android users, who nowadays outnumber iPhone owners and have more choices in phones, wireless carriers, and data plans to cover all that streaming. When Apple debuted the iPod in 2001, the iTunes Music Store in 2003, and the iPhone in 2006, there was nothing like them. On Monday, unless Jobs pulls another magic trick out of his jeans pocket, you’ll have alternatives.


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