Amazon beefs up cloud player

Scan-and-match function to boost competitiveness with Apple

Hoping to improve its game in an ongoing tussle with Apple for online music supremacy, Amazon has updated its cloud player with scan-and-match technology.

The upgraded Amazon Cloud Player will now instantly duplicate and store users’ music collections. As originally configured when Amazon launched its storage system in March 2011, users had to upload music files one at a time.

Amazon’s music sales and storage systems have faced some criticism for clunkiness in comparison to the relatively seamless offerings of Apple’s iTunes Match, launched last November.

The improved Amazon system is the result of newly secured licensing agreements with Sony Music Entertainment, EMI Music, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group and more than 150 indie distributors, aggregators and publishers.

Amazon Cloud Player automatically saves purchases from Amazon’s MP3 store, and scans and matches customers’ iTunes and Window Media Player libraries (upgraded to 256 kbps audio).

The new player is compatible with a host of other devices, including Kindle Fire, iPhone, iPod Touch and Android handsets.

Amazon Cloud Player is available in a free tier (good for storage of all MP3s bought from Amazon and an additional 250 songs) and a premium tier (which allows users to import and store up to 250,000 songs for an annual fee of $24.99). The iTunes Match service sports the same price.