Amazon's Cloud Drive Music Service: Why It's Not Ready for Prime Time

Amazon's new Cloud Drive music service is really more a music backup service than anything else. Here, Knowledge Center mobile and wireless analyst J. Gerry Purdy explains why Amazon's Cloud Drive just isn't ready for prime time.


Amazon announced its new Cloud Drive music service last week. It seems innocent enough: You create an Amazon Cloud Drive account and then select the music you already own but want to access with your mobile devices. You upload the selected music to the Amazon Cloud Drive server (five gigabytes are free) and then download an Android mobile player. The Amazon Cloud Drive then streams your music to your Android mobile device (with other mobile platforms likely to follow).

Seems like a good idea, right? I don't think it will be successful. Here's why.

I love to listen to music, whether it's while I'm writing this column, on a flight or when I'm walking Fritzie, my little dachshund. Sometimes I prefer to listen to my own music, while at other times I prefer to listen to "radio stations" supplied by firms such as Pandora. Now that each of us has the ability to store our own music most anywhere (and very often also a wireless connection with which to play the music), the question becomes: How can you best find and play the music you're interested in? Do you need to own any of it or simply rent it for the times you want to listen to it? These questions weren't possible to answer a few years ago, but now they have become core to the future of music. The record labels-with distributors such as Apple, Rhapsody, Yahoo and Amazon-are all trying to figure out the answer to these questions.

Historically, most of us have a library of CDs that we've likely uploaded to iTunes (since there are over a billion downloads). I don't even know where all of my CDs are anymore. I have about 100 of them somewhere in the basement. iTunes has a built-in player that I use with my notebook PC. I also have a rather old iPod that sits in the kitchen to play some of our favorite old songs during dinner (my wife Alicia and I always dance to a few tunes every night we're home together-it's one of our traditions).

Now I have an iPhone and iPad to which I've synced up my iTunes library. I use the iPhone to play back music while walking with Fritzie (typically around Chastain Park). I use my iPad to play my music on a flight, even when I have my notebook PC because the iPad has a long battery life and playing music on the iPad doesn't run down the notebook's battery.

My wife Alicia and I tend to play Pandora when we want some background music. Pandora plays songs that it thinks you'll like based on your inputting names of artists who you like. You can also play any songs from any artist you specify. The ad-supported version is free and they provide an ad-free version for a subscription fee.