New Amazon storage service set to put customers on 'cloud' nine
Online retail giant Amazon has launched a new internet service for people to store and have mobile access to music, videos and photos.
It comes in two parts, Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player.
The first lets you upload and store files on Amazon's servers, which you can get to from a web browser on a Mac or PC. The second lets you play songs you have uploaded to the service on your computer or on a smartphone that runs Google's Android operating software.
The "cloud" in the names refers to the practice of storing content online and streaming it to a computer over the internet.
The US launch, announced by CEO Jeffrey Bezos, puts Amazon ahead of Google and Apple, which are believed to be working on similar services.
While Amazon will charge for the Cloud Drive service, it is offering anyone with an Amazon account five gigabytes of free storage - less space than on the smallest iPod Touch, but likely to woo users who might later decide to pay for more.
The company, which already runs a commercial online storage service called Amazon S3, decided to introduce a consumer cloud service to make it easier for customers to access digital content no matter where they are, music director Craig Pape said.
The offerings could also benefit Amazon's bottom line - the company realised customers were hesitant to purchase MP3s at work because they did not want them tied to their office computer, Mr Pape said, so Cloud Drive and Cloud Player may encourage more impulse music shopping.
"At the end of the day we're trying to delight customers, but we're trying to sell more music, too," added Mr Pape.