Amazon.com now offers both online file storage and streaming media through two new cloud services. Cloud Drive is your “hard drive in the cloud” where you can store your music, photos, videos or documents. Your first 5 GB are free. Cloud Player is a streaming media player that you can use in a web browser or on an Android device.  The player lets you access your stored music from anywhere, organize your collection, and create playlists.   It gets better:  any purchases from the Amazon MP3 store do not count toward your storage quota, and when you purchase any MP3 album (many are $5) your Cloud Drive will be upgraded to 20 GB for a year.  Still nervous about the “cloud”?  Don’t be scared.

Amazon has been offering cloud services to businesses for several years through its Amazon Web Services, but now it is finally leveraging its web-based infrastructure to serve its consumer customer base. If Amazon invented the Kindle to stimulate book sales, this new duo of services is clearly intended to boost its music sales. With a free online music player and free storage for purchases made from its MP3 store, the retail giant has created a compelling offering that can attract and lock-in customers — giving them a competitive advantage in the marketplaces for both digital music and online storage. What’s up Google and Apple?