Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

Summary: Amazon's launch of Cloud Drive and Cloud Player yesterday shows just how serious the company is about offering up a challenge to Apple's media dominance.

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TOPICS: Apple, Amazon
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Amazon's launch of Cloud Drive and Cloud Player yesterday shows just how serious the company is about offering up a challenge to Apple's media dominance.

First, let's take a look at Cloud Drive and Cloud Player. Basically, Cloud Drive is 5GB of free storage that anyone with an Amazon.com account can get access to, and if you've bought an MP3 track from Amazon then you can get that upgraded to 20GB for the first year. Cloud Drive is basically a consumer front-end to Amazon's Web Services S3 platform. If your storage needs go beyond the free 5GB then you're paying $1 per GB per year (20GB = $20/yr, 50GB = $50/yr ... up to 1,000GB for $1,000/yr).

Your Cloud Drive offers up four default folders that allow you to organize your uploads:

  • Documents
  • Music
  • Pictures
  • Videos

This storage is accessible via the browser on both the PC and Mac.

So where does Cloud Player fit in? Cloud Player is an Android app (actually an update to Amazon's existing MP3 app) that allows you to stream music stored on the Cloud Drive to your Android device over both 3G and WiFi. The service has only been live for a day and the recording industry is already kicking off, arguing that this is an unlicensed music streaming service (despite the fact that end users are only accessing music they've bought from Amazon legitimately or their own library). I'm in no doubt that the legality of the Cloud Player will ultimately be determined in a court of law. For now it's here and the music industry needs to get used to it.

Note: Video streaming isn't currently on offer, but I expect that it's in the pipeline.

OK, so that's what we have right now. 5GB of storage with emphasis on being able to use it for streaming music. It could be seen as a way to cross-promote Amazon's MP3 store and give exposure a consumer version of Web Services S3. But it isn't.

In fact, there's a lot more to this than meets the eye.

Let's take a look at what Amazon currently offers aside from the books, DVDs and CDs. First there's Kindle (both the hardware and software versions) offering ebooks. Then there's Audible audiobooks. And there's the MP3 store. Oh and there's Amazon Instant video offering streamed movies and TV shows (free to Amazon Prime members). And don't forget that Amazon has a game and software download store, as well as its own Android App Store.

In other words, Amazon has in place a massive digital downloads ecosystem. All it now needs is a hub for that ... maybe something like a tablet?

Yes, that's right, a tablet. Amazon has shown itself willing to enter into the hardware market with the Kindle, something which, despite not having access to sales numbers, seems to have been a success for Amazon (I'm certainly amazed by how many of them I see when I'm out and about). Kindle, while being both popular and well loved amongst owners, is still very much a one-trick pony. It's a great ebook reader, but that's pretty much all it does. But now that Amazon is having a love-in with Android, a multi-purpose media consumption device makes sense as it would act as a hub for all these digital services. That 5GB of Cloud Drive storage could act as secondary storage/backup for the device (heck, why not give tablet owners more space?) meaning that the device might not need as much storage as, say, and iPad.

Amazon was extremely disruptive to brick-and-mortar retailers when it came to physical goods (especially when it came to books, CDs and DVDs) but as the world shifts from physical goods to digital goods, Amazon doesn't want to be left behind. The Kindle has given Amazon relevance in the ebook market, and a tablet would give the retail giant relevance for other forms of media.

In case you've not figured it out yet, Amazon is aligning itself to go up directly against Apple. In much the same way that Apple has evolved from selling computers to selling digital products, Amazon is evolving from selling physical products to selling digital products.

Amazon is working on an Android tablet. It's coming. It will be disruptive. And it will be a direct threat to Apple continued dominance in digital media.

Topics: Apple, Amazon

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35 comments
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  • Apple and Amazon are like penguins

    Apple is letting Amazon see if there are any orcas in the water before jumping in. Cold-blodded?<i>Maybe</i>. Smart business move?<b> Definitely.</b> Let Amazon fight the lawsuit, file a <i>Amicus[/i] or two, but by waiting Apple stays in the labels' good graces while they let Amazon play "bad cop."</i>
    matthew_maurice
    • But iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch are not supported; success will be limited

      @matthew_maurice: Amazon can not test everything with such limitations.
      DDERSSS
      • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

        @AHK Watch out Apple please, I beg you. I want to keep receiving my paychecks from you. Don't let those Amazonians steal your thunder. I want to protect my bottom line.
        nomorebs
      • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

        @denisrs It is true that there's no app to stream to Apple devices, although Cloud Player for the Web should work on a Mac (and Linux).

        However, the Cloud Player uses the Amazon MP3 Downloader for downloads of albums and tracks and that will deliver them integrated into Windows Media Player (and hence Zune PC) as well as iTunes. So you can transfer tracks to devices, but streaming depends on a mobile-installed app.

        I expect to see one for Windows Phone before any iDevice because of the app-selling royalty barrier that Apple created. We'll see.
        orcmid
    • Apple's position

      @matthew_maurice Plus, I'm not so sure that Apple is in the record companies' good graces currently. They get way less money per song, and are now offering it DRM-free. Good for Apple and us, respectively, but not so much for the record labels.
      rlorenz
      • The labels aren't thrilled with Apple, but...

        @rlorenz Since Apple sells more music than just about anyone on the planet, they're, like Wal-Mart, an 800lb gorilla in the room.
        matthew_maurice
    • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

      @matthew_maurice
      Yeah, because Apple doesn't have the cash to fight a lawsuit...

      Are you nuts? Apple dropped the ball by not being first out of Amazon/Google to do this. They will hurt for it.
      Droid101
      • Why fight a fight you don't need to?

        @Droid101 Apple has battalions of lawyers, and with the suit-fest over smartphone IP going on right now, the last thing they need is another resource-sink. As for dropping the ball, Amazon pretty much thought this up and did on their own. At least one label, Sony is less than pleased, and once Sony picks a fight the rest of the majors will surely join in. Apple is wisely letting Amazon weather [i]that[/i] $hitstorm, and by waiting they get to play "Good Cop" to Amazon's bad cop.
        matthew_maurice
    • Oprah

      @matthew_maurice
      And if Amazon's luck holds out once again, and Oprah gives free publicity to their tablet... like she did their unsuccessful ebook reader, then they might just have another hit on their hands.
      camcost@...
  • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

    Get a WP7 and a Zune pass - offers millions of songs and skydrive and Live mesh. Your PC's, data and music available anywhere in the world.
    owlnet
    • This message was brought to you by.....

      @owlnet

      Microsoft
      Economister
    • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

      @owlnet
      ZUNE???? that thing is dead!! and who wants to be caught sporting a zune, google obama and zune..
      Hasam1991
      • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

        @Hasam1991 Did you even read his comment? He said to get a Windows Phone 7, which happens to use the Zune media player, which happens to have a streaming service.
        Aerowind
      • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

        @Hasam1991
        I have a Zune. It's the sleekest music player out there.

        Problem is, it's a music player. Devices need to be all-in-one these days.
        Droid101
    • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

      @owlnet Waiting for Verizon!!
      jatbains
  • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

    This is what we like to call "competition".
    Loverock Davidson
    • Yes indeed

      @Loverock Davidson
      And it is a VERY good thing!

      (I kind of like it when we actually agree from time to time LD)
      use_what_works_4_U
  • Man, the wishful thinking here is almost painful to see

    somebody, please anybody, do something that can compete with Apple. Please? Please?
    fr_gough
    • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

      @frgough@...
      That's what this is... Apple will open up MobileMe with the same feature.. and users like me will probably stick to it since Apple just works..
      Hasam1991
      • RE: Today Cloud Drive, tomorrow a tablet - Watch out Apple, Amazon is after you!

        @Hasam1991
        Awesome! So when will they be opening up MobileMe to this service?
        Droid101