iCloud, Google Music Beta, and Amazon’s Cloud Drive: Which is Best for You?

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June 14, 2011

Apple snatched up much of the buzz in the tech world last week with their roll-out of the iCloud cloud computing service. It was the kind of hype and broad-spectrum “buzz” Google would have liked when it rolled out its Google Music Beta a few weeks ago, and of course, Amazon has been quietly offering a cloud service to its customers for a while longer.

Although Amazon was first big player to release this type of cloud-based music service to the public, all three companies have been working on similar schemes for quite some time and it was an inevitability that they would all face competition from one another before too long. But who are the winners and losers in the battle for users? That depends on what you want in a cloud based service.

Amazon Cloud Drive

  • Pros: Amazon’s service will automatically add future purchases to your cloud, at no extra cost. And they have a storage capacity of up to 1,000GB—and that’s a lot of music. And because it uses a web app, it’s available on any computer or mobile device that is connected to the internet regardless of platform. Of course, it also has an Android app, giving easy access to Andorid users.
  • Cons: It is the most expensive of the cloud-based services, so far. Although free up to 5GB, to upgrade to 20GB will cost you $20/year, and $1 per GB beyond, up to 1,000GB. Reports say the service is a bit clunky, but early bugs will probably get ironed out as the service matures.

Who’s it for?: Non-Apple users who don’t mind paying to host their files in the cloud, and want access to it on any internet-connected device.

Google Music Beta

  • Pros: Free (for a limited time). Unlike the other services, Music Beta will host WMA and FLAC files in addition to the standard MP3 and AAC. Web-based, so you can access it from any device with an internet connection, and it has its own Android app. And it’s easy to set up and fairly user-friendly.
  • Cons: Google has yet to announce a price structure. Although it is free for now, what happens after you upload your entire music library and then find out it’s going to cost you $5/month to access it. Better to wait until we know what it’s going to cost. Also, you have to manually upload all your music, which can be a long and laborious process.

Who’s it for?: Users who don’t want to be tied to any one brand and the freedom to access their music from any internet-connected device. Also, those will a variety of music files that go outside the norm.

Apple’s iCloud

  • Pros: Free with unlimited GBs—that’s a hard feature to beat. An automatic scan of your iTunes library will match all previously purchased songs to iCloud, so you don’t have to spend hours uploading. Syncing is automatic with any device connected to the service. Because the service runs through iTunes, it will also sync your contacts, apps, and more automatically.
  • Cons: It can only be accessed through iTunes; there is no web app. So if you find yourself with a PC at work, and can’t download iTunes, or have an android phone, you’re out of luck. Also, in order to upload non-iTunes-purchased music to the cloud, you have to purchase iTunes Match for $24/year.

Who’s it for?: Users who already have a Mac, an iPhone, iPod Touch, and an iPad, should be thrilled. The fact that it is free (for all iTunes purchases) is also a big plus if you buy from iTunes a lot. If you’re an Android user, it’s probably best to stay away.

Where do you fall on this spectrum? Are you an Android user who purchases everything from Amazon, or are you an Apple enthusiast?

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