Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Amazon Cloud Player Works


Challenges for the Amazon Cloud Player

Challenges for the Amazon Cloud Player range from its playback quality and availability on certain devices to its legal implications. Perhaps the most obvious challenge is that the entire experience is closely dependant on the speed of your Internet connection. Speed can affect upload and download times and how well your computer or mobile device can stream each track you play. In addition, if your Internet service provider or mobile phone service places caps on how much bandwidth you can use in a month, your playback could be cut short. See our article "How Streaming Video and Audio Work" for more about how your Internet connection affects streaming services like the Amazon Cloud Player.

Another challenge to the quality of playback in the Amazon Cloud Player is the limited formats the software supports. Both the MP3 and AAC formats are lossy compressed files. Lossy means that some of the digital audio data that forms the music is lost when compressing the file into that format. This keeps the music files small and easily portable, with a high enough quality that most listeners can enjoy them on the go. Consequently, it also means that while an MP3 album from Amazon may be cheaper than a CD, you aren't purchasing a copy that's in the CD's original high, lossless quality.

Though the Amazon Cloud Player is generating a lot of buzz, some other companies present some competition. Dropbox, for example, is a service similar to the Amazon Cloud Drive. Dropbox offers 2GB of storage for free, 50 GB for about $10 per month, and 100 GB for about $20 per month. In addition, software to accesses and play streaming music from Dropbox has already been developed, such as the Dropbox Audio Player for Google Chrome. If Dropbox could support such software for multiple browsers and mobile devices, including the iPhone, it could pose a threat to the Amazon Cloud Player.

All other challenges aside, the most publicized issue for Amazon Cloud Player is its legal liability in selling and streaming music that isn't protected by DRM. As a Cloud Player user, you're the only person who can access and play your files. You can also download those files anywhere and use them in any MP3 player. Unfortunately, this means Amazon isn't attempting to limit whether you redistribute those files in violation with its terms of service. As of this writing, music producers and distributors are raising objections because Amazon did not negotiate licenses for streaming services. Both sides are weighing their legal rights, with Amazon ready to defend its terms of agreement and its customers' rights to access and use their digital purchases anywhere, anytime [sources: Pachal, Asharya, Musil].

The Amazon Cloud Player hit the market as a unique hybrid of cloud services and streaming audio. Its flexible features could completely change the standard of portability for personal stereos. Fast forward to the next page for lots more information about the Amazon Cloud Player.