Apple's iCloud is the most used data storage service, followed by Dropbox and Amazon's Cloud Drive, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.
In a recent study of nearly 2,300 connected Americans, Strategy Analytics found that more than one-quarter of respondents (27 percent) have used iCloud, followed by 17 percent for Dropbox, 15 percent for Amazon Cloud Drive and 10 percent for Google Play.
The report also revealed that cloud storage is overwhelmingly dominated by music, with about 90 percent of Apple, Amazon and Google cloud users storing music in the cloud. Even Dropbox, which the report noted lacks an associated content ecosystem, sees around 45 percent of its users storing music files.
"The cloud's role in the race to win over consumers' digital-media libraries has evolved from a value-added service for digital-content purchases to a feature-rich and increasingly device-agnostic digital locker for music and movies,” Ed Barton, Strategy Analytics' director of digital media, said in a statement. “Dropbox being used by one in six Americans shows that an integrated content storefront isn't essential to build a large user base; however, we expect competition to intensify sharply over the coming years."
The cloud-based storage market still has a way to go in terms of marketing and membership, although the survey results suggest more Americans are waking up to the benefits of these platforms. While 55 percent of connected Americans have never used a cloud-storage service, among consumers who have used one, one-third (33 percent) had done so in the last week.
Usage of cloud storage is heavily skewed towards younger people, in particular those between the ages of 20 and 24, while Apple's service is the only one with more female than male users. Among the big four, Google's is the one most heavily skewed towards males, the report revealed.
"Although cloud storage is fast becoming a key pillar of digital platform strategies for the world's leading device manufacturers and digital content distributors, there's still a lot of work to do in educating consumers–particularly those over 45,” Barton said. “With over half of consumers yet to use any consumer cloud-based service, 2013 predictions for the 'year of the cloud' seem unrealistic. However, given the market influence of the leading players pushing the concept, in particular Apple, Amazon, Google and Ultraviolet, I won't be surprised to see mainstream adoption and usage spike within the next two to three years in the key U.S. market."
One area the survey did not cover is cloud security and data protection, which a November 2012 survey by technical support Website FixYa indicated is one of the top five concerns users have about the most popular file-sharing sites, including Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, SugarSync and Box.