Seattle - Amazon is upgrading its Cloud Player music-locker service to be more competitive with Apple's iCloud by making it easier to upload computer-stored songs stored to the cloud for streaming or downloading to multiple mobile devices and networked-home home devices.
Through licensing agreements with the four major music labels and more than 150 independents, Amazon is adding Scan and Match technology to the service. The upgrade enables Amazon to scan customers' iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries, match the songs on their computers to Amazon's music catalog of 20 million songs, backups the songs in the cloud, and let users stream or download the songs to multiple mobile and home devices, including the Kindle Fire tablet, Android devices, iPhones and iPod touches, and any other device equipped with a web browser.
Previously, consumers had to manually upload stored songs to the cloud, including songs purchased from Amazon.
Devices compatible with the Cloud Player will soon expand to include the Roku streaming A/V player and Sonos's wireless multiroom-audio system, Amazon said without elaboration.
All matched songs - whether purchased from iTunes or ripped from CDs - are upgraded for free to high-quality 256Kbps audio, Amazon noted. Music that customers previously uploaded to Cloud Player also will be upgraded.
Cloud Player is available in free and premium versions. With Cloud Player Free, users can store all MP3 songs purchased from Amazon as well as import up to 250 songs from a PC or Mac to Cloud Player at no charge. Cloud Player Premium customers can import and store up to 250,000 songs for an annual fee of $24.99. Amazon-purchased MP3s (including all previous purchases) do not count against the 250 or 250,000-song limits.
Starting today, Amazon is dedicating its Cloud Drive to file storage and breaking out Cloud Player as a separate service for music storage and playback, each with separate subscriptions. Customers can still use Cloud Drive to store files in the cloud and access them from any web browser or from a Cloud Drive desktop app. Customers can store up to 5GB free. Cloud Drive storage plan prices have been reduced to start at $10 per year for 20GB of storage.