Comparing Cloud Music Services: Apple vs. Google vs. Amazon



Apple finally revealed the details of its hotly anticipated, Steve Jobs keynote-worthy iCloud, including a major iTunes upgrade, at the kickoff for this week’s WWDC. That upgrade includes iTunes Match, a cloud-based music service competing with Google’s Music Beta and Amazon’s Cloud Drive. In our chart below, we’ve compared the major differences among the three services, including their unique features, and their pluses and minuses.

Apple iTunes

Google Music Beta

Amazon Cloud Drive




Invitation only (for now)

Now with account


Free; iTunes Match is $24.99 per year for up to 20,000 songs

Free (for now)

5GB free with account; 20GB for $20 a year, then $1 per GB in increments of 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000.

Storage Capacity


Up to 20,000 songs, or about 100GB

Up to 1,000 GB

Audio File Formats




Unique Features

Access to iTunes Store; iTunes Match

Free songs during setup

Access to Amazon’s MP3 Store

paidContent Coverage

iTunes archive

Google Music Beta archive

Amazon Cloud Drive archive

System Requirements

Apple: iOS 4.3 and newer; PC: iTunes 10.2.2 on Windows XP and newer

Apple: Mac OS X 10.5 and newer; Windows: XP and newer

Internet Explorer 8 and newer; Firefox version 3.5 and newer; Chrome; Safari

Music App


Web; Android app

Web; Android app

Deals With Record Labels

Multiple labels

None for library matching or subscription


Quick Take

Apple doesn’t always get it right the first time (think Apple TV and even MobileMe).

Plus: Syncing should be faster and easier; song quality may get a boost.

Minus: Not a real subscription service, no streaming, lots of limits.

Google cooperated enough with the labels to offer free downloads within a catalog of 20,000 songs.

Plus: Fairly simple to set up once you get an invitation; delivers audio ubiquity as promised (most of the time); instant playlists.

Minus: Slow to upload; can rely too much on streaming with poor results when the signal isn’t great.

Amazon gets first-mover points

Plus: Easy to add purchases, works with Android, offers legit alternative to iTunes.

Minus: Slow to set up and a little clunky.

Source: Based on manufacturer information, additional reporting.
Produced by: Amanda Natividad
Edited by: Staci D. Kramer
Published: June 7, 2011

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