Amazon Cloud Drive Musings

After uploading all of my Amazon MP3 purchases to my Amazon Cloud Drive, I used almost all of the 5GB that Amazon provided.  I felt a little cheated because I made these purchases through Amazon.  Amazon is even making you offers of additional storage for new MP3 purchases.  Since I can see the record of all of these “legacy” transactions on my Amazon account, why couldn’t Amazon honor these purchases?

And then it struck me: Amazon is killing many birds with a single stone.

  1. If you purchase and leave your music on Amazon, then Amazon saves a lot of money.  They can keep a single copy of the song in their storage farm.  And then they just point your Cloud Drive pointer to this original content.   If you have a really popular album, then they save multiple instances of storage.  And these savings apply to transmission costs as well.  Why download 100 or 1,00 or 10,000 copies of a song to thousands of customers?  Cut out the storage costs and cut out the download costs.  [Note: The transmission costs do occur on the back-end whenever you listen to the music.  In fact, each time you listen to the music, you and Amazon are incurring that download.]
  2. Amazon can layer any number of services back into this offering.  They can include cover art, and all sorts of other metadata.  And they can add things over time.
  3. Amazon is storing the content – so they control it.  This may not sound like much.  But I suspect that this is a big deal to their content partners.  For content that Amazon vends and stores, there is no real issue.  But if a customer uploads content and it turns out that the content is obviously unlicensed, then Amazon has rights regarding content embargoes, content filtering and even content elimination.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon does content analysis on behalf of their content partners.

And none of these benefits accrue for older purchased content that would need to be reloaded back to Amazon.

But Amazon is risking very little by not addressing legacy purchases.  They have a much bigger issue that they must address head-on: customer perception.  Amazon is risking a lot based upon their belief that customers won’t mind having their content stored for them.  I’m not certain if this is a good bet or not.

People get positively possessive about things that they have purchased.  They want to use it in all sorts of ways.  For example, I like to include song snippets in videos that I’ve bult for the kids and their sports teams.  I would be upset if I had paid for content and couldn’t use it.  In fact, I would consider that a violation of fair use.  Not having access to this content in any way that I want (and at any time that I want) may result in some very dissatisfied customers.

For my part, I am still unsure about having “rights” to something without having anything substantial.  Thus far, I only have two movies purchased via Amazon Video on Demand.  [Note: I’ve also completed my first Amazon MP3 purchase that is stored exclusively on Amazon’s servers.]  Yet I have dozens of digital movies on my media server.  And I have hundreds of DVD and Blu-Ray discs in a cabinet.  And I have thousands of digital music files on my media server.  I could certainly buy more “rights” to other content that is stored off-site.  But it just doesn’t seem the same to me.  Proximity equals control and control equals confidence.

As I think about it, I like the Amazon Kindle model a little bit better.  I do have the rights to books I’ve ordered.  And I can view them anywhere – as long as I download them first.  [Note: I do wonder why Amazon isn’t streaming book content as well as music content as it is less bandwidth intensive.]  Either way, I feel very connected to the Kindle content – wherever it is.  I think that this is because I have something to touch – i.e., the Kindle itself.

But I’m sure that Amazon customer studies have been through all of this.  I am sure that they have recent data that suggests that younger customers are more comfortable with less concrete content.  It’s just old farts like me that want to have something that is a little more tangible.

In a few years, all of this will be moot.  Content will be stored in the cloud.  And you won’t have direct and personal access to it – except via a technology broker (like Amazon).  And that situation has the little “Lost in Space” robot (that is inside my head) screaming “Danger, Will Robinson.”

I am also reminded of the Doctor Who episode entitled “The Long Game.” In this episode, people have to pay for “access” to important information.  The more you pay, the more “access” you receive.  Surely this is not the future of computing.  I certainly hope not.

-Roo

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  1. Clouds: Just Water and Particulates | Roo-minations - May 8, 2011

    […] services in the form of the Amazon Cloud Drive.  I’ve written about this one before.  And I really like it.  And Amazon has a killer retail purchasing and fulfillment […]

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