Amazon.com just rolled out a number of related products revolving around storing your music, movies, photos or whatever in the cloud, Amazon's cloud to be specific. Amazon just got a huge jump on Google, Apple, Microsoft and anyone else that wanted to get into this ‘digital locker' game. And I use the word ‘game' facetiously, because this is big business. Just ask Apple (re: iTunes).
First an overview. Cloud Drive is the linchpin in this whole deal. It's where you store your well… anything. It can be music and everyone seems to be fixated on that, but it can be photos, videos, documents – so your own personal hard drive, but stored on Amazon's S3 servers.
Cloud Player, which comes in both a Web version and a version for Android, allows you to listen to the music you have stored in your ‘Cloud drive' without needing any additional software. Oh by the way, did you notice there's no version for iOS? Or Window Mobile for that matter.
But it gets better. Everyone starts off with a free 5GB account, and more or less costs $1/GB/year. So 20GB would cost you $20/year. And you can get that 20GB for 1 year for free by buying 1 single MP3 album from Amazon Music. So that works out to about a 50% discount.
If you assume that you're buying MP3s from Amazon who encode at an average of 256 kbps, then 20GB would allow you store over 3000 songs. Not bad for $10/year.
I also believe that these prices will come down, as Cloud Drive is completely stored on Amazon's S3 cloud storage service and pretty much all of Amazon's AWS services have been decreasing in price since they started almost 10 years ago.
What's the benefit anyway? As the web browser ever incrementally is becoming the ‘platform' and people care less and less about the operating system they're running, not to mention the staggering growth of mobile computing, storing your data where you can get it from anywhere is the trend. iTunes songs are stored on your computer and/or on your iPod, but nowhere else. Well if you have an iPod, but an Android phone? What if you buy a song on a whim on your phone? Where does that song live? Amazon feels they've solved that problem, and oh by the way, if you buy a song from them, they automatically store it in your Cloud Drive with no hit on your allocated storage.
So I have no doubt that the usual big players — think Apple, Google and Microsoft — are wringing their hands over this. Entertainment will always be a money-maker, and having a first-mover advantage on consumers in this space is important, because the last they want to do is to have to transition to another service. Just ask anyone who has had to re-rip their 200 CDs (or even 20) because their hard drive crashed or they moved to/from iTunes or some other service.