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Mar 29 11

Amazon offers online media storage

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US shopping website Amazon aims to be a place where users can store music, photos and videos that can be accessed at any time, from any computer.

The online retailer has launched two new offerings: Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player. A “cloud” refers to the practice of storing content online and streaming it to a computer over the internet.

The Cloud Drive allows people to upload files such as music, videos and photos and store them on Amazon’s servers, which can then be accessed from a web browser. The Cloud Player allows users to play the songs they have uploaded, on a computer or smartphones with Google’s Android operating software.

The Amazon move is thought to have beaten Google and Apple’s work on similar services that would allow consumers to access content when away from their home computer. An updated version of the Amazon MP3 digital music-buying app will include Cloud Player, so users can play stored music on their mobile phones.

Amazon will charge for the Cloud Drive service but anyone with an Amazon account will get 5GB of free storage. That is less space than the smallest iPod Touch, but is likely to get plenty of users who might later decide to pay for more space to try the service.

The Seattle-based company, which already runs an online storage service for companies, Amazon S3, said it is rolling out a consumer cloud service to make it easier for customers to access digital content no matter where they are.

But the new services could also benefit Amazon’s bottom line. Amazon music director Craig Pape said it realised customers hesitated to buy MP3 files at work because the files would be tied to their office computer.

Mr Pape said: “At the end of the day we’re trying to delight customers, but we’re trying to sell more music too.”

After the free space offered, users can pay an annual fee to use the Cloud Drive. The use of 20GB of storage will cost 20 US dollars (£12.50) but for a limited time Amazon is offering 20GB of free storage to people who buy a digital album from the Amazon MP3 store.

Documents or videos uploaded to Cloud Drive will open in programmes on the computer being used to access them, and both MP3 and ACC files will play through the Cloud Player, Mr Pape said.

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Tags: Amazon, cloud networking, the cloud

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