Perhaps one of the only devices that could ever be considered true competition for the iPad was the Amazon Kindle Fire, especially in its early days. One of the first cheap tablets, the Kindle Fire was—and still is—backed by an impressive ecosystem of easily-accessed content, which gave it a lot of edge from the very beginning. That's why something a little on the unexpected side happened earlier today with the Amazon Cloud Player app, when made its formal appearance just today on the iPad.
Amazon's Cloud Player, now optimized for both the iPad and iPad mini, brings that same ecosystem to Apple tablet users, allowing access to music libraries stored in a user's music locker or even allowing those users to download the music from their lockers to their local devices for those times when there's no handy connection around. The Cloud Player has been powered on iPhone and iPod Touch devices since last summer and was widely well-received, so seeing the migration to iPad really wasn't out of line at all. Amazon Cloud Player comes in the free variety and is good for all Amazon-purchased MP3s as well as 250 additional songs as well as comes in a $25 a year version, which allows for up to 250,000 songs' worth of storage, or better than a year's worth of continuously-playing music.
Amazon's been ratcheting up the availability of its Cloud Player beyond the Apple lineup as well, taking the Cloud Player to some unexpected places like the car dashboard. Thanks to a cooperative effort with Ford, the Cloud Player can be spotted as part of the Sync AppLink entertainment system. Sonos' Wireless HiFi system even got a taste of the cloud thanks to Amazon, meaning there are a whole lot more endpoints to access cloud-based music now than there were this time last year.
Naturally, such a move to cloud-based music is going to mean some serious challenges overall to the radio industry which depends on listeners staying tuned to sell advertising space and thereby remain operating. There's a component of local news, weather, and events that cloud-based music can't provide of course, but radio's going to have to offer a bit more than a few minutes of local flavor in order to support an entire operation. But with Cloud Player allowing people to not only take their music on the road with them, but then take it out of the car and carry on playing when they reach their destinations, that's a prospect that radio is going to have a tough time keeping up with.
Still, users are likely to come out very much ahead with this, and Cloud Player should find plenty of friends in the short term.
Edited by Jamie Epstein