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web-based applications. Mobile users have a nearly
equal amount of access to Google’s services as well,
via the company’s A ndroid- and iOS-compatible apps,
or through their mobile device’s browser. And yet the
majority of Google’s apps are built into the A ndroid OS,
which makes accessing them on an A ndroid device
faster and easier, and makes purchasing an A ndroid
device much more desirable for users of services such
as Gmail, Google+, and Google Talk.
Recently, Google launched Google Music Beta, a
cloud-based service that allows users to upload 20,000
songs from their music libraries to Google’s servers and
stream those tunes through a web browser or A ndroid
phone. As the name suggests, the service is still in beta,
and there is currently no fee for the service, but don’t
expect that to be the case when the finished product
goes live. Like iCloud, Music Beta sy ncs your music
across your computer, smartphone, and tablet, allowing
you to access it whenever you want (as long as you have
an Internet connection).
Unfortunately, uploading your music collection can
be a very time-consuming process. Apple’s iCloud,
on the other hand, doesn’t require you to upload your
music. The difference goes back to Apple’s abil-
ity to strike deals with several record
companies, which gives iCloud
access to the labels’ libraries.
Google was unsuccessful in
reaching those deals in time
Overall, Google’s approach to the cloud is to make it
fully customizable for each user. While iCloud integrates
the cloud as part of already-existing programs, Google
has developed a multitude of programs specifically
for the cloud. However, each of Google’s cloud-based
programs are separate. This disconnect between ap-
plications is one of the biggest criticisms analysts have
leveled against Google’s cloud strategy.
“Google has been the cloud, but it’s all of these dispa-
rate capabilities,” Levitas said. “I think for the consumer
that’s a nightmare. It may be fine for small businesses,
but I think for individuals, it’s ‘Wait, what are all of the
different things I can do depending on which service I
The fact that Google has so many separate properties
may allow it to offer best-in-class verticals, but in order to
make cloud-based storage, synchronization, and stream-
ing a reality for the mass market, it has to be integrated,
and it has to be easy. “You need it to be stupid-simple,
and with Apple the notion is that you take a picture and
it automatically syncs to the cloud,” said Levitas.
Google+ could be a very important step toward making
things simpler for users. Google’s new social-networking
service has many
of the same
AmAzon’s Cloud drive
Amazon, like Google, has been leveraging the cloud as a means to provide
a variety of services for years. While most consumers know Amazon for its hugely
popular online marketplace, the company also provides web services—such as its
Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud—to a multitude
of companies, helping them to create and main-
tain websites on Amazon’s servers for a fee.
On the consumer side, Amazon has recently
rolled out its Cloud Drive, a service that allows users to upload and store their infor-
mation on Amazon’s servers. Think of it as a hard drive you access through the web.
Currently, users have access to 20GB to 1,000GB of storage space, ranging in price from
$20 to $1,000 a year. Cloud Drive works in conjunction with Amazon’s MP3 Store, meaning
that any music purchased through the service is automatically saved to your Cloud Drive
without taking up space on your drive.
Cloud Drive users are initially provided with 5GB of free storage, but that amount can be
increased to 20GB if you purchase an album from the Amazon MP3 Store, at least as of press
time. No such deal is being offered for users of Amazon’s Appstore, Instant Video service, or Kindle store.
To listen to songs saved on your Cloud Drive, Amazon has also introduced its Cloud Player. Cloud Player lets you stream music from your Cloud Drive to your
PC, Mac, Android device, or iPad. (iPhone and iPod touch users cannot access either the Cloud Drive or Cloud Player at this time.) Both Cloud Player and MP3
Store apps are also available for Android, Blackberry, and Palm devices. iPad users can only access the service from their web browser. Users can upload
music to their Cloud Drive through their PC or Mac.
At this early stage, the main problem with Amazon’s Cloud Drive is that it’s just a digital locker, while Apple, Google, and Microsoft each offer more
robust cloud services. “I’m not so sure how interesting [the Cloud Drive] will be to the vast number of users out there,” said Michael Gartenberg,
research director at Gartner.
However, Amazon has already demonstrated that the company has larger cloud ambitions. Between Kindle, Cloud Player, App-
store for Android, and the Instant Video Store, Amazon offers a lot of cloud services for the PC, mobile devices, and home entertain-
ment gear such as the Roku box. But to make the cloud work, Amazon will need to figure out a way to bring all these
services together. That’s where the rumored Amazon tablets come into play.
According to reports, Amazon is prepping two slates, one of which will run a
dual-core Nvidia Tegra chip. The higher-end model is said to pack a blazing quad-core
processor. If these two tablets launch as planned, Amazon will become a serious
cloud player overnight.
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