Amazon Cloud: 5 Questions To Ask Before Shipping Your Music Online
On the same day that the N.Y. Times officially erected its paywall, Amazon.com made its on move on the digital frontier.
The online retailer announced that it would allow users to upload their music to Amazon servers, making it available for streaming from any Internet-connected computer or Android-based mobile device. Apple, Google and Facebook have been testing their own online music services, which would also run on the cloud. Those services could launch this summer.
Before users take the time to upload their music to Amazon's digital locker, they should consider whether it's smart to go with the company first on the market.
1) Are you okay with the lack of portability?
Though Amazon Cloud Player works through an app on Android phones and tablets, it won't work on Blackberrys, iPhones, iPads or iPods. It could however work on the tablet Amazon is expected to release eventually.
2) Are you concerned about your privacy?
Unless you already buy your music from Amazon, uploading your music to the company's servers theoretically gives it the opportunity learn a little bit more about your habits. That could help them fine-tune product recommendations for you--from clothes to books. With all the backlash against online personalization, some should be wary.
3) Are you ready to pay the price?
Amazon only gives you 5 gigabytes of space for free. And that's to hold music, documents, photos and videos. You can get 20 gigabytes of space for $20 a year. Or for this year only, you can buy an album off Amazon's music store and get 20 gigabytes of space for free.
The thing to remember is that Google and Facebook lean towards free in their product offerings. Both companies have very strong advertising networks to profit from their products. Unless your're already planning to buy a full album, it may be worth waiting to see if Google and Facebook stay true to form. Google currently charges $5 a year for 20 gigabytes to hold anything but music.
4) Are the record companies going to play hardball with Amazon?
Sony and a handful of other companies are not happy Amazon launched the Cloud Player. It could very well cloud licensing negotiations the record labels are having with Google and the others. So what happens if the recording industry decides Amazon is holding too much unlicensed content (music illegally downloaded and then uploaded by a user to Amazon's cloud)? They could very well sue to have the illegal files purged. An unlikely scenario, but the labels would have less weight behind them if more services were on the market.
On the positive side, Android users will have an easier time listening to their own music instead of Pandora.
5) Are you okay with the lack of social network connectivity?
No where to be seen in Amazon's Cloud Player is a link to Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social networks. Apple, of course, created its own social network within iTunes and Google has its Buzz network. Social networks remain a great way to discover and comment on music. Amazon's Cloud seems like a shy giant sitting alone in the corner.
Other issues to consider, of course, include sucking up battery life on your cell phone and having an Internet connection.
To reach reporter Paresh Dave, click here.
Find him on Twitter: @peard33.