Amazon Takes Their Music to the Cloud

Amazon updated their MP3 download offerings this week with the introduction of their Amazon Cloud Drive and Cloud Player service. The service provides 5GB of free online storage through their existing S3 cloud storage, but if you purchase an MP3 album from Amazon’s digital download store, you’ll get 20GB of space for 12 months free. Any music you purchase and have automatically saved to your Cloud Drive won’t count towards your space limit.

You aren’t limited to Amazon music, however, as you can upload your existing library with the downloadable import tool. Your complete collection can then be played through the Cloud Player website or the Android app that’s now available. No word on when or if there will be an Apple iOS app in the future.

It’s an interesting play in a world of digital downloads, and certainly one that will help draw users of iTunes and other online music stores to Amazon. On the other hand, it’s not quite the death of streaming services like Napster or Rdio.

If you find yourself buying more than one album per month, the pure streaming option these services provide may end up being cheaper, at least if you always have access to the Internet. Even in situations where your access may be limited or intermittent, such as with your smartphone, these services are now offering offline caches that allow you to store and play music while your device loses its signal.

Still, there will always be though who value owning their music outright versus streaming, even if that ownership consists of what is essentially a license to play a file downloaded from an online store.

Zune Software and Firmware Updates Available

Zune Software

If you’re an owner of the first generation of Microsoft’s Zune MP3 player, you’ll probably want to head to the download page for today’s big launch of the updated software. After a year of using the original software, the latest version is faster and easier to use. It also includes support for podcasts, a missing feature critics have often pointed to.

The software also includes a nice bonus for owners of the original 30GB hardware in the form of a firmware update that will put the same software running on the newly released second generation Zunes, providing much of the same features on the existing equipment.

If you’re looking into purchasing a new Zune, CNet has video reviews of both the new 80GB and flash-based 4GB models, which they seem to like.