Best Buy quietly launches Music Cloud
While still awaiting an official announcement of its release, Best Buy’s new Music Cloud service is now live. The cloud music service acts much like Google and Amazon’s offerings, albeit with a hybrid pricing model.
Users upload their music collections to Best Buy’s servers (no matching), and can then stream them from a Web interface or a mobile application. iTunes is required to upload tracks to Music Cloud.
Once uploaded, tracks can be re-downloaded to other devices for offline playback. Best Buy doesn’t appear to be limiting the number of tracks that can be uploaded, instead offering “lite” and “premium” versions of the service.
The pointless “lite” version limits you to a 30 second preview of each song in your library; users must upgrade to the $3.99/month “premium” service to listen to entire tracks. We understand 30-second previews of songs in the iTunes store; obviously a user would want to preview a track before they buy it. But why would someone need to preview tracks that they already own?
Best Buy is certainly not the first to introduce a cloud music service, but they appear to be the first brick-and-mortar retailer to branch out into the rapidly growing and crowded market. The infrastructure for such services is minimal; all that is truly needed is a server to store tracks and streaming software to deliver it to devices (Best Buy uses Catch Media’s PlayAnywhere). But the legal ramifications of storing and streaming music could have caused the peripheral players like Best Buy to hold out until digital giants like Amazon and Google set a precedent for the legality of such locker services. Of course, it is always possible that Best Buy is simply playing a game of monkey see/monkey do.
Best Buy plans to supports iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices. The Android app is already available in the Android Market, but BlackBerry and iOS versions have yet to hit their respective App stores.
Photo: Android Market