NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Amazon's ( AMZN - Get Report) bold move this week into cloud storage puts it in some tough company.

The Net giant launched its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player, giving users 5-gigabytes of free online storage for computer files including songs that can play on multiple devices.

For now, let's ignore the controversy Amazon started with Sony ( SNE) by jumping into music streaming business before getting all the licensing agreements in order. And let's focus instead on cloud storage and how the path to lucrative, new, locker service revenue has a few twists and turns.

The falling cost of storage technology has created a consumer-friendly race between home hard drives and Internet storage lockers. Lower costs have also made online storage a big part of many online activities we've been involved with for years, like photo sharing and email.

Desktop drives with 1-terabyte of storage capacity for big backup duties now sell for less than $100. But those files sit on the home network, unreachable from work or your mobile device.

And that's where cloud services have an advantage -- access.

Amazon's Cloud Drive joins outfits like Microsoft's ( MSFT - Get Report) Windows Live SkyDrive, Google ( GOOG - Get Report) Docs and Apple ( AAPL - Get Report) MobileMe, which are all available wherever you have a fast Net connection.

The prices range from free, to $20 a month for entry level storage capacity.

But the excitement in cloud lockers comes at a time when storage isn't necessarily dying -- it's growing more diffused, said Peter Rojas, co-founder of tech enthusiast blog gdgt.

The biggest shift, which hasn't received much attention, "is that most people simply have a lot less stuff to store than they used to," said Rojas. Email has become largely Web-based, photos post on Facebook and Flickr and music streams from sites like Grooveshark and Slacker, for example.

"We've already started storing a lot of our stuff in the cloud, so to speak, it's just usually not in a single 'locker,' it's spread across a variety of services," said Rojas.

Read on for some of the top "locker services" competing for your file storage business.

Amazon Cloud Drive

Amazon launched its cloud service Monday, giving away 5 gigabytes of storage and a cloud music player application to listen to songs you bring onto or buy from The storage price goes up in round number increments as you add space, $20 a year for 20 gigabytes, $50 for 50 gigabytes and so on, up to $1,000 for a terabyte. Songs purchased through Amazon are stored for free.

Eager to end a long-running stalemate between Net shops and music companies, Amazon offered a music streaming service with the Cloud Drive storage plan. This caused some outcry from big labels like Sony, who say the industry has not yet arrived at a workable agreement on how or if record companies get paid for steaming music services. "We hope that they'll reach a new license deal," Sony told Reuters Tuesday, "but we're keeping all of our legal options open."

Meanwhile, the music streaming model is still missing a few key pieces.

Microsoft's Windows Live SkyDrive

Microsoft's SkyDrive will hold 25 gigabytes of your stuff for free. But it limits individual file sizes to 50 megabytes, making it impossible to store big files like movies. And while SkyDrive holds documents, photos, videos and songs, it does not come with a media player to stream your entertainment.

Google Docs

Google gives away 1 gigabyte of storage to all users and limits individual file sizes to 250 megabytes. And even though it's a document service, Google Docs holds photos, videos and music. Google offers some of the cheapest prices available for additional capacity, with 20 gigabytes selling for $5 a year, 80 gigabytes for $20 and one terabyte going for $256.

Google has been working with media companies on licensing agreements to start a music streaming service, but nothing has been announced yet.

Apple MobileMe

Apple has struggled with the cloud, preferring to deliver files to devices via iTunes and the App Store. But Apple does have a cloud service: MobileMe, which offers 20 gigabytes of file storage for $100 a year.

But similar to Google and Amazon, there has been rumblings that the Mac maker is broadening its online storage system to include a music locker and song streaming service.

It seems that while the giants have gone boldly into cloud storage services, the industry has lacked a solid streaming strategy. Amazon may have dislodged a streaming standoff by offering record companies an alternative to Apple and its dominant grip via iTunes.

But for now, the big players, with the exception of Amazon, are favoring a vanilla-flavored storage offering.

--Written by Scott Moritz in New York.

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