Amazon Cloud Drive: A More Active Storage?
Amazon.com — the retail business, not the Amazon Web Services subsidiary that pioneered IaaS — has launched Amazon Cloud Drive, a consumer cloud storage offering. You can store any type of file you’d like, but Amazon is heavily promoting it as the power behind the also-new Amazon Cloud Player, a SaaS app that plays any music you’ve stashed in the cloud. Is it an enterprise offering? No. Should cloud service providers still keep an eye on Amazon Cloud Drive? Yes. Here’s why.
The basic pricing scheme for the Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player one-two punch is simple: you get 5GB free no matter what, forever. If you buy any album from the (personal favorite) Amazon MP3 DRM-free music store, you get a one-time credit of an additional 15GB of storage for a year. Above that, Amazon offers packages of additional storage at 50GB increments or so for a basic rate of $1/GB/year.
The offering comes with a couple of twists: any music you download from Amazon MP3 not only gets synced to your Amazon Cloud Drive account, but doesn’t count against your storage quota. And since you can access the Amazon Cloud Player from any computer with a browser or a Google Android-based smartphone, it means not only is your content available from anywhere – but you can actually use it.
It’s that last part that means it’s worth watching. Cloud storage isn’t new to Amazon — the Amazon S3 offering has been around for a while now. But Amazon Cloud Drive wraps the concept up in a user-friendly interface that also enables them to not only move files in and out of the cloud, but access them in useful and appealing ways directly from the browser. Just as Google Docs (incidentally cheaper at $5.00/20GB/year) lets its users edit documents in the cloud, Amazon Cloud Drive enables customers to interact with their media.
I don’t think Amazon is looking to take on Google Docs with a productivity suite or similar. At least, not yet. But Amazon Cloud Drive represents a potential shift in the way end users expect to interact with their cloud data. If it catches on, people are going to start asking why they can’t use their other data in the same way.
In fact, Amazon Cloud Drive may, in its own way, be the best Google Chrome OS value-add yet, since it would let users keep and access their personal files with Amazon and their business data in Google Docs. Call it a sign of things to come, but I’m predicting that users won’t be satisfied by what I’m going to call cold storage for much longer.