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Amazon launches Cloud Player service. Is this an iTunes-killer?

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In a move that might mark a decisive step forward in the evolution of online music, Amazon launched two new services today: the Amazon Cloud Drive and the Amazon Cloud Player. The Cloud Drive allows consumers to store music, and any other digital items, on Amazon’s data centers. Amazon is currently offering 5 GB free, although there is an extra 20 GB available for free with a purchase of an MP3 album from Amazon’s music service. And there’s the rub: Far from just visualizing the Amazon cloud as a data storage center, the website’s new Cloud Player allows you to play music directly through Amazon… unlike Apple’s iTunes service, which still requires users to store their music library on their own disk space. Amazon lets you store your music online and play your library directly through a browser, on any computer. Amazon’s Cloud service also allows you to download music directly to your smartphone or tablet… but only if it runs on Android software. (Burn, Apple, you just got burned!)

Now, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Apple has been planning its own cloud-based service for some time now, and there’s no reason to assume that the software giant won’t deliver an impressive Cloud Player of its own in the near future. The move into cloud-based computing could also lead to a semi-existential question: Just how willing are consumers to part with yet another traditional notion of “ownership”? Are we ready, barely a decade after the high-water point in CD sales, to leave our music libraries floating around in the metaphorical ether?

What do you think, PopWatchers? Intrigued by the Amazon player, or planning to hold out until Apple has its own competitive service? And do you truly belong here with us among the clouds?

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