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Apple, Google Now Trailing Amazon's Cloud

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ONE FOR THE BOOKS
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Cupertino and Mountain View, it's time to step up your game. Seattle just beat you to the punch.

As Apple and Google continue development on their respective cloud-based MP3 services, Amazon broke from the wings to debut its own cloud drive which allows for MP3 storage and streaming.

Every Amazon customer is eligible for 5GB of free storage upon signup, expandable up to one terabyte -- but it'll cost ya. However, if you purchase just one Amazon MP3 album, your storage is automatically boosted to 20GB for one year. Better yet, purchased Amazon music doesn't count against your storage limit!

Your MP3 files can be streamed with a web browser, but if you own an Android device, the Amazon MP3 App can access your music library on the go. For now, Apple mobile devices aren't compatible with the service, but that should change relatively soon -- as long as Amazon wants steady adoption.

The software is new and a little clunky -- as Lifehacker describes it, "a bit rough around the edges." The web client can't download more than one file at a time, and strictly as a backup service, Amazon priced itself out of the market. It's $20 for 20GB, $50 for 50GB, and so on -- all the way up to $1,000 for a terabyte. And that's just for a year of service! Granted, the MP3 streaming adds more than just your typical unlimited backup.

And the forthcoming competition with Google and Apple might affect the price.

Amazon's cloud drive may support video streaming in the future, according to the Wall Street Journal, but restrictions will likely be put in place to only allow personal videos, not commercial.

Already, the music industry is grousing at the cloud drive. A spokesperson for Sony Entertainment told the Journal, "We are disappointed that the locker service that Amazon is proposing is unlicensed by Sony Music." But the music industry's whining could be short-lived: Amazon execs will be seeking licenses from several media companies this week.

Amazon's service marks a major push to cloud-based media libraries by larger outlets. Although standards have yet to be set, Amazon has created a clear indicator of what Apple and Google should be doing -- and what they need to improve upon.

(See also: Google Music Begins Testing In-House and Google Music Beats iTunes to the Cloud)

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