I’ve been playing with Amazon since it launched.  5GB of free storage is included.  If you purchase ANY music (even a 99 cent album) they automatically upgrade you to 20GB.  I purchased a .99 Classical music album, and voiila…20GB.  

I have close to 18,000 songs in my iTunes Music folder…about 200GB.  So I picked a subset of music and started the upload.  After days and days (and an ugly call about over usage from my Internet provider), the upload completed.  The upload client is an Adobe Air app that you must download.  It is single-threaded, and uploads slowly.  

Using the Amazon Cloud player you can play your music from any web browser.  This includes iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.  The problem is speed.  When you click a song to play it, there is a substantial delay before the song starts.  Between songs there is anywhere from a five to fifteen second delay. 

Google Music

This weekend I was accepted into the Google Music Beta.  I downloaded the “plugin” which is a preference pane on Mac OS X.  Google Music allows you to upload up two songs at once, and it uploads much faster than Amazon.  The max is 25,000 songs (not based on storage space), so I can upload all my music.  It is currently in progress.  

Google Music can be accessed from any web browser as well.  The interface is a little cleaner and you can create “instant mixes” but again it is slow.  When you select a song and select play, it can take thirty to sixty seconds before the song starts playing.  Sometimes playback “freezes” between songs.  Other times there is a thirty second plus delay between songs.

Speed

This is where the “user experience comes in.  Apple has to get it right.  Right now, it is “nice” to be able to have my entire music collection in the cloud and access it from “anywhere in the world.”  But with two taps I can be playing music locally and change songs or playlists in a second.

Even with speed, Google or Amazon do not offer the same user experience.  Apple has to conquer this.  I want to be able to access my cloud music from my iDevice and not know I am streaming from the cloud.  I can even live with a second or two delay.  But not the kind of delays you experience with Google and Amazon. 

Apple definitely is getting the “upload process” right.  You will simply run an iCloud scan of your iTunes folder and get access to every song in your library out of iTunes 18 million song media library.  There is nothing to upload.  This means no days or weeks of uploading or ugly calls from your provider for excessive usage.  Now they have to make it fast.  

I for one am hoping they nail this.