Amazon faces backlash over iPod-, iPhone-, and iPad-incompatible ‘music locker’

“A new Amazon.com Inc service that lets customers store songs and play them on [some] phones and computers is facing a backlash from the music industry that could ignite a legal battle,” Phil Wahba reports for Reuters. “Amazon’s Cloud Drive, announced on Tuesday, allows customers to store music files on the company’s Web servers instead of their own hard drives and play them over an Internet connection directly from Web browsers and on phones running Google Inc’s Android software.”

“Sony Music, home to artists such as Shakira and Kings of Leon, was upset by Amazon’s decision to launch the service without new licenses for music streaming, said spokeswoman Liz Young,” Wahba reports. “‘We hope that they’ll reach a new license deal,’ Young said, ‘but we’re keeping all of our legal options open.”

“Music labels were alerted of the plans last week. Only later did Amazon address the issue of negotiating licenses, one source close to the discussions said,” ” Wahba reports. “That executive called the move ‘somewhat stunning’ and said some within the media industry said the service might illegal. ‘I’ve never seen a company of their size make an announcement, launch a service and simultaneously say they’re trying to get licenses,’ said the executive, who requested anonymity because the discussions were not public.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: So desperate was Amazon to claim “first” with their iPod-, iPhone-, and iPad-incompatible music service that they neglected to have licensing in place before launch? Stunning, indeed. Google TV repeat.

Gee, which “music locker” service people will use, the one that works with their iPods, iPhones, and iPads, or one of the many that don’t? Amazon seems to know the answer to that one already.

44 Comments

  1. I just can’t see myself using a service like this. Mobile data is either slow, or expensive, or both for most people and if you’re listening for extended periods everyday I don’t see how it is better than just carrying an iPod with you – especially since the capacity is less than most iPods (or similar devices). I’m sure some people will use it but, I see internet connections being the weak link.

    1. Exactly. So, I can listen to my entire music collection “anywhere”? I can already do that — I have an iPod touch. I’m planning on replacing it with an iPhone later this year, at which point I will literally always have my entire music collection on my person.

      This service (and perhaps Apple’s as well), is solving a problem that doesn’t exist, except for people with gargantuan music collections — and they won’t be able to use this service because it only stores up to 20 GB.

      I can only see this service becoming useful in the future, if we start to replace our high-capacity internet devices with cheaper low-capacity devices. Unless and until that happens, who needs the cloud for their music?

      ——RM

      1. Amazon Cloud Drive can hold up to 1000 GBs as long as you’re willing to pay for that service level ($1000 a year). I tried the free service for a test drive using my MacBook Pro and it worked very well. I normall use Mycast which streams music over the internet from my 24/7-running home-based iMac using Orb software. It saves uploading to the cloud which on slow uploading broadband it takes a rather long time to do.

        I’m surprised that Amazon would run into legal problems with its cloud locker. If you upload your own files and stream them back, how is that in violation of anything? That’s not exactly a subscription service.

        It’s not always the case that people have gargantuan music collections, but some of the audiophile types use very high quality music files and they just take up more space. My mp3 music collection is only encoded at 160 Kbp/s but it still weighs in at over 30 GBs.

        Cloud lockers are nice but rather over-rated since you do need a decent internet connection. If free WiFi were readily available everywhere, then it would make a lot of sense. If Apple comes out with some storage-less smartphone, a cloud locker could come in handy if the price is right.

        1. “If you upload your own files and stream them back, how is that in violation of anything?”

          in the RIAA/MPAA’s eyes, streaming files requires a different licence. here’s how they want it: if you want to buy a physical song, you have to pay for a license. if you want to stream that song, you have to pay for a different license. if you want to burn that song to CD, you have to pay for a different license. if you want to play that song on more than one device, you have to pay for a different license. if you want it to come with album notes and artwork, you have to pay for a different license. want a higher quality file? pay for a different license. include a snippet in your home video? pay for a different license. upload that video to a sharing site? pay for a different license. perform a cover at the karaoke bar? pay for a different license. whistle a few bars on the bus? pay for a different license.

          i may seem like i’m exaggerating here. but truth can be stranger than fiction. in their perfect world these a-holes would have you pay for the exact same song every single time you wanted to play, use or mention it.

      2. Well, there was that rumor of a “low cost” iPhone with essentially no local storage. Apple has already set an example with Apple TV. Apple TV has no third-party “apps” (only the pre-installed software), it has no local storage, and it plays media from the “cloud.” Apple probably considers it a “hobby” to rehearse for new iPhones that do something similar, plus rolling out the same capability to existing iOS devices. That NC data center is going to get used from something BIG.

        Apple has a key advantage over Amazon. The iTunes Store keeps a very accurate history of everything each customer has ever purchased. For those past purchases, there is no need for the customer to “upload” their existing songs into a “music locker.” Apple already has the track stored in the cloud; they just need to keep track of which customers have access to which tracks. And Apple does not need space to store the song files individually for each customer, because Apple has those tracks stored “collectively.” That’s very efficient.

        Apple can offer the cloud-based music service for free to access any past or future iTunes Store purchase (with the exception of songs that are no longer available). If the customer wants to store their own music files in a cloud “music locker,” then they have to pay a fee (which is probably part of a new MobileMe service).

        1. This *may* make sense for systems utilizing a land line, but for most wireless contracts (e.g., ATT, Verizon in the U.S.) there are data caps. If the system you are on has a 2 GB cap for the month you can run through that in under 19 hours if you are streaming 256 kbps AAC audio (the standard/default data rate for music on iTunes currently).

          Remember you are not just paying for the “media locker” service “in the cloud” you are also paying for the ability to download that streaming music and such through your ISP/carrier.

          Until the data caps get raised for mobile users I don’t see how this is practical. Less than 19 hours of listening over the course of a month is not enough. If I’m tied to a landlne anyway with larger caps then I might as well have a larger device that has all my music on it.

          1. Most of the time that I use my iPhone to listen to music (often with Pandora’s streaming music these days), is when I am at a location with WiFi. My iPhone is in my pocket, connected and streaming via WiFi, while I’m working on something else. The time I am “in between” such locations is relatively short, and I am often NOT in a situation to use my iPhone to listen to music anyways (such as if I was driving), or I am doing something else with my iPhone (such as playing a game or reading a book with Kindle). I think even 10 hours per month would be sufficient.

        2. Such an iPhone makes no sense whatsoever, because you couldn’t store apps on it either. And if you can’t use apps, then what good is a touch screen iPhone? Toss that one in the “Stupid Rumor” bin.

          1. It would still have local storage for the OS (which may or may not be “iOS”) to use, including apps “pre-integrated” by Apple. So it would still have iPod app (which would the music streaming service) and Safari browser (which you can use for web-based apps) and iBooks and Contacts and iCal and Maps and any other “app” Apple puts on it.

            It would be a really dumb move for Apple to compete with itself and reduce the number of subsidized “full-featured” iPhones sold (complete with two-year contract); Apple probably makes $400-500 PURE PROFIT per iPhone sale. BUT, Apple may want to go after the market of tens of millions of “low cost” phones that Nokia sells. The customers who buy such phones would not have considered an iPhone due to cost, but if they experience an “affordable” Apple product, they MAY consider getting a full-featured iPhone next time (complete with two-year contract).

            iPod started out as a high-end product and Apple left the low-end to the rabble. Today, we have $49 iPod shuffles; it’s called an “iPod” but it’s not taking any sales away from iPod touch. Apple may want to try the same strategy with iPhone, and Apple’s product design (and marketing) would clearly distinguish the two products for the two groups of customers.

      3. “This service (and perhaps Apple’s as well), is solving a problem that doesn’t exist, ”

        Ah, but you know that Apple excells at this and offers twists and hooks that no one can match and that everyone loves…

    2. There may be a legal issue here with licensing the music, but this service is technically not too different from Pandora (or any of many streaming “radio station” services); the difference is that you are streaming music from your own collection instead of the collection “licensed” by the service provider.

      Apple is probably working on a similar service, except that they are taking the time to deal with all the technical, usability, AND legal issues before launch.

    3. I would use it with my hundred gigabyte plus music collection, and I would gladly pay for the extra storage space – if it worked with my Apple gear. Until then, no dice.

  2. “So desperate was Amazon to claim “first” with their iPod-, iPhone-, and iPad-incompatible music service that they neglected to have licensing in place before launch? Stunning, indeed.”

    Yep, thats exactly what they did. They did a “Goooooogle” lol

  3. What’s stunning is the expectation that they (or anyone) would need to acquire separate licenses to allow you to listen to music that you’ve already legally purchased.

  4. This smells just like that failed Google TV launch 🙂 haha… I can’t wait for this to crash down around those Amazonite’s heads 🙂

    Steve wins again!

  5. I like how amazon didn’t do any research on what happened to the Google TV launch and decided to do the same exact thing 🙂

    Fail.

    Steve must be laughing his ass of today 🙂

  6. So, I can keep my 20 GB of music on my iPhone or in the cloud – both for free – but need an internet connection (wi-fi only?) to listen to it?

    Great business plan, Amazon.

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