Today Amazon.com announced something that is, to borrow a famous Steve Jobs-ism, insanely great. For a while now, Amazon has been the industry leader in so-called cloud computing (providing storage and computing resources via the web) with their Amazon Web Services (AWS). I could go on about how innovative and powerful AWS is but that’s a topic for another day. Today I want to talk about the new announcement: Amazon has come up with a creative way to merge their music download store with their cloud computing services.
Why is that a big deal? Think about how you normally work with music. You’ve probably downloaded a bunch of songs from iTunes. First of all, you’d better make sure you back up those songs because you’re only one disk crash away from losing your entire digital music collection. Secondly, you need to worry about moving copies of that file around. Want to play it on your iPhone? You need to synch it. Want to share it with your kid’s MP3 player? You need to do another synch. The point is that you didn’t just download a song, you took custody of a bunch of bits which you are now responsible for managing. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got enough things to manage in my life.
So how does this new service help? When you buy music from Amazon, instead of downloading it to your computer, it gets stored in what is essentially your personal music storage locker in Amazon’s cloud. Guess what? No more worrying about backups – it’s taken care of for you. Want to play that song on a smart phone or tablet? It’s immediately available to be played remotely from any device that supports Amazon’s music player – no more need to synch anything. You buy it – you play it, anywhere, from any device.
It’s important to note that in this initial release, the Amazon Cloud Player is limited to access via the web and a native Android app. Amazon doesn’t yet have a native app for iOS (i.e. a version for Apple products), but this is the very first version – Apple support is bound to be high on the list of early features.
In the past, I’ve written about why I never buy music from iTunes. My normal mode of operation for the past few years has been to buy all my music from Amazon in pure MP3 format but then store the tracks in my iTunes library so that I can synch it with my family’s various iDevices. As soon as Amazon comes out with iPad/iPhone/iPod support (or, in the case of iPod, a suitable replacement), then I’ll just store all my music in the cloud. Hopefully there’ll be a way to upload my existing songs en masse. Then my entire digital music collection will be backed up for me, automatically, and I’ll be able to access it anywhere I like, from any device I like. In the words of Jack Johnson, this is how it’s supposed to be.