Best Buy Music Cloud streams songs to Android, iOS and BlackBerry smartphones and supports offline mode

Come on, you knew this day would come now that Amazon, Google and Apple have legitimized music lockers in the cloud. Yes, Best Buy is jumping on the bandwagon with a cloud service of their own, dubbed Music Cloud and powered by Catch Media Inc’s Play Anywhere platform. Should you care? It depends, as Music Cloud seems to be a mixed bag of best ideas taken from others, clearly with some limitations stemming from their lack of Apple’s stranglehold of the music industry.

You can upload songs to Music Cloud, just like with Google’s Music Beta and Amazon’s Cloud Player. More importantly, the service lets you stream songs from the cloud to any device, unlike Apple’s service that only lets you download individual files (although that’s likely to change in the near future). Best Buy’s offering, however, excludes the scan-and-match feature that Apple’s iCloud will offer for $25 a year come this Fall. Music Cloud has a couple of other nice perks (and more annoying limitations)…

Best Buy is offering smartphone apps for iOS, Android and BlackBerry that work with the Music Cloud service, allowing you to stream songs, manage your cloud music collection on the go, even mark songs, playlists or artists for offline listening. A desktop program from Best Buy will copy all of the playlists you’ve set up on your computer, so you don’t have to re-create them manually. However, and this is annoying, the utility only allows for transfer of your iTunes music – you cannot pick individual files residing in folders on your computer outside the iTunes music library. This limitation could be indirectly imposed by Apple.

Wrapping up, Best Buy Music Cloud comes in two flavors: The free Lite version and paid Premium account which costs four bucks per month. Best Buy provided no information about the latter’s features and storage plans at press time nor was it known when the service officially launches.  We’ve heard that smartphone apps impose a 30-second listening window unless you pony up for a paid service, which is a pretty lame strategy to up-sell consumers. Fortunately, free accounts can stream songs to their computer without limitations, using the web player depicted below

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