Can Best Buy’s Music Cloud Beat Apple To The iPunch?

Not to be outdone by Google (NSDQ: GOOG), Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) and the rest of the cloud bandwagon, Best Buy is also expanding its own services up in the sky. Today it has launched a new music streaming offering — appropriately enough called Best Buy Music Cloud. On the surface, it sounds strikingly similar to what Apple will be offering users in its iCloud music service, but with a few differences:

Devices: While iCloud looks like it will work across both Macs and PCs, in terms of wireless devices, you will need to have an Apple product to use it. BBMC can be used on iOS, Android and BlackBerry devices.

Software: iCloud requires iTunes, and it appears for now that this is also what BBMC will need, too.

Catalog: Both iCloud and BBMC work on the idea of creating fingerprints of your audio files. That means that if your tracks are already in their respective libraries, it does not upload your music. Apple says that it has 18 million songs in its library, while Best Buy’s service will have six million tracks. So depending on how obscure your music collection is, you could find yourself spending a lot of time uploading content.

Price: If what you want is an annual subscription to the service, at $24.99, Apple is undercutting Best Buy’s $29.99 pricetag. If you are looking to dip your toe in the water, Best Buy also offers a monthly subscription at $3.99, and a free offering that lets you get only the first 30 seconds of your tracks — perhaps useful for people with short attention spans or those who are a little trigger happy with their music players

The precedent. Best Buy’s partner in Europe, Carphone Warehouse, launched Music Cloud in the UK nearly a year ago, under the brand name My Music Anywhere. Like Best Buy, Carphone Warehouse sells standalone subscriptions to the service. It has also preinstalled the app on certain devices, such as the Samung Europa. Both Best Buy’s and Carphone Warehouse’s services are powered by Catch Media, a cloud media startup that picked up investment from Motorola Mobility earlier this year.

While My Music Anywhere service has won at least one consumer choice award, it is hard to get a handle on how well it has actually done in the market.

“The Carphone Warehouse does not share numbers/statistics of that sort,” was the reply I got from the spokesperson when I asked.

On the one hand, you’d think that if a lot of users have signed on, Carphone Warehouse would have trumpeted this news over the last year. On the other, if it was a flop, why would Best Buy expand it to more markets? Given the similarities between the two services, Apple could be the rising tide that lifts Best Buys boat — or it could just blow it out of the water altogether.