Amazon announced cloud storage for music. Google is reportedly working on a massive music streaming service that will reside in the cloud. And new reports indicate the Apple is working on its own cloud music service that might even beat Google to market.
There's a reason why these companies are aiming for the cloud even though Amazon and Apple already have healthy and successful music download services.
Cloud storage is the future of media.
The benefits for companies are clear. For instance, Apple needs only to keep a master copy of a song on their servers, and multiple subscribers can listen to that track at once. Speaking of subscribers, subscriptions are frequently more profitable than single track or album sales on a per customer basis, and streaming music helps to deter piracy.
But the benefits to consumers are clear, too. Think of it this way: You don't need to ever worry about the storage capacity of your music player (be it a dedicated MP3 player or a smartphone), and you never have to worry if you've put your latest favorite songs on that particular device. It's all housed in the cloud. Whether you uploaded it from your own library or bought it online, or even just pay for streaming service alone (Pandora, Rdio and the like), the music is there at all times.
And given the ubiquity of Internet connections in today's society, the music is always available. If you're already using iTunes, you obviously have an Internet connection. But your music will be available just about anywhere, thanks to Wi-Fi hot spots and Internet-capable smartphones. To be fair, if you have a particularly slow or spotty connection, music streaming may not be your best option yet, but coverage is constantly improving.
Capacity is also seldom an issue in cloud services. For music lovers, it's pretty easy to fill up an MP3 player's storage space, but many cloud storage services have very generous storage allotments for customers. Some don't have limits at all.
While many people are wary of storing their media on servers hundreds or even thousands of miles away, cloud storage will soon become the norm for most kinds of data, and consumers shouldn't be too worried. Anyone who is using a Web-based email service (including Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Hotmail and dozens more) is already very familiar with cloud storage. And even though the thought of being separated from our personal, sensitive or important emails is terrifying, millions of us use Web-based email every day without incident.
The same transition is taking place in media, and it likely won't be too long before you, too, are storing media in the cloud.