Talking tech since 2003

Just a week ago today, I wrote an article about Amazon – one of the biggest players in the online sales arena – and how they could hit major pay dirty if they were to use their existing Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure to create a consumer-focused service similar to Apple’s MobileMe product.  In this article, I discussed the fact that Amazon could significantly expand their web services department to an audience outside of the developers and other savvy individuals that they currently cater to, and that by making products that everyone could use, the company would have such a greater potential.  Moreover, I came to the conclusion that for a company such as Amazon that already has the staff and engineering backend in place, creating a rock-solid MobileMe competitor wouldn’t be nearly as big of a feat as some would imagine.

When I wrote this article, I was speaking purely hypothetically.  While I honestly did want to see a MobileMe competitor, I doubted that Amazon would act on such plans for at least a matter of months.  So imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning and read that Amazon released a new consumer-based service dubbed “Cloud Drive” early this morning.

As one would assume based on the name, Cloud Drive is a new cloud-based storage service that allows users to store files online.  Off the bat, this reminds me of Amazon’s more development-tailored S3 (Simple Storage Service) product.  However, the aspect that seems to give Cloud Drive the edge is the fact that it sports a very robust user interface.   While I haven’t had the chance to mess around with it myself, I have looked at a few screenshots this morning and from what I’ve seen UI seems more feature-rich in the sense that it’s designed to make all aspects of the service more easily accessible.

However, the one thing that I am hands-down most impressed with is the fact that Amazon is integrating Cloud Drive with their Amazon MP3 store as well, allowing for users to not only back up their purchased music, but also gives them the ability to stream it to their computers or mobile devices as well.

If you’ve been following technology news recently, you probably are familiar with the rumors that Apple plans to revamp MobileMe next month.  One of the most highly speculated aspects of such a revamp is the speculated “Music Locker” which would follow the concept of – you guessed it – music streaming and storage.  Even Google is rumored to be in the works of a music store and storage service as well.

What this essentially means is that Amazon has beat both Apple and Google at what is quite obviously an up-and-coming – and potentially highly profitable – industry.  To me, this is a huge step in Amazon’s proving their potential in the technology industry in addition to their already huge influence in online retail sales.  Sure, Cloud Drive isn’t exactly a MobileMe alternative.  It doesn’t have synchronization, it doesn’t have email, and it doesn’t have collaboration.  But what does it have?  Potential.  And quite honestly, I think we’ll be seeing a lot more from Amazon in the near future.

Amazon Cloud Drive has a number of pricing options, including 5GB of free storage.  That’s 3 GB more than Dropbox offers its basic accounts!  To top it off Amazon will, for a limited time, upgrade your storage to 20 GB for one year if you purchase a music album from their music store.  With this in mind, I’m sure that Amazon will easily attract a great many customers, and that this service will get off the ground pretty quickly.

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