Look! Amazon Just Launched Its Cloud Service

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Maybe we were looking at the wrong part of the sky.

But just this morning, Amazon unwrapped its own cloud, and it looks nice n’ fluffy. The ‘Amazon Cloud Drive’ will allow users to access their music collections from the web and Android devices, or any device for that matter. “Our customers have told us they don’t want to download music to their work computers or phones because they find it hard to move music around to different devices,” Amazon vice president of Music and Movies Bill Carr relayed. “Now, whether at work, home, or on the go, customers can buy music from Amazon MP3, store it in the cloud and play it anywhere.”

Right off the bat, users will get a 5GB allocation, but that amount quickly shuttles to 20GB upon the purchase of an Amazon MP3 album.  Beyond that, Amazon-purchased material does not count against the storage quota.  But both AAC and MP3 files can be uploaded, and original bitrates will be preserved.

So what’s the catch?  Apparently Amazon shuttled to the front of the line without securing major label licenses, according to sources late last night.  In fact, we’re not even sure if there was a courtesy call, and the attitude at Amazon is that licenses are not required for cloud-enabled storage.  Still, further discussions will focus on add-on services, that is, if Amazon gets to control the conversation.

All of that makes for an interesting jab at Apple and Google, both of whom are slogging through licensing negotiations.  But on the product side, Amazon is playing nice, and encouraging users to continue their iTunes+iPod habits – if they so choose.  In fact, this also plays nice with Macs, virtually any browser (including Safari), and goes far beyond music.  But critically, this does not appear to play nice with iPhones or the iOS.

More ahead.