(CNN) — Amazon this week became the first big internet company to offer something called “cloud music.” To the unfamiliar, that term may seem off-putting, like a new soft-rock genre that leans heavily on harp solos. But it’s possible many of us will be using cloud music systems in the not-far-off future.
So what does that look like?
In marketing-speak, the cloud is just a fancy term for all the computers — other than your own — that are connected to the internet.
Companies like Amazon and Google maintain huge networks of computers that are stored, row after row, in secret warehouses all over the world. These machines hold data that computer users don’t want to store on their own hard drives.
Think about all the photos you have on Facebook; any documents you’ve stored with a service like Dropbox or Mozy; or all of your Web-based e-mail. Those files are stored somewhere out in the cloud instead of on a personal laptop.
The cloud-storage concept is catching on in lots of ways, but music, as buzz about Amazon’s new service shows, seems to be the next frontier in this cloud expansion.
Still, this transition is fraught with legal and technical challenges. It’s also been a long time coming, which gives ammo to skeptics who say cloud music has been the “next big thing” for years now.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the topic. Think of it as Cloud Music 101.
What’s better about cloud music?