Cloud-Based Services: A Storm in the Digital Stratosphere
By Drew Muller The future of online storage doesn’t exist on Earth. Well, technically it does, but its fate lies in the feathery, metaphorical clouds that conveniently consolidate all of our files—from music to photos to movies—online. This transition is in response to consumers’ dislike of being tethered to a single device and, sure enough, Cloud-based services are materializing rapidly across the skies of software. Apple was the first major company to successfully implement the new weather pattern, and its iCloud has placated devoted users who have grown to detest the restraints of iTunes, while inspiring a new gust of aerial enthusiasts, armed with their iPhone 4s, to give the brand a whirl.
But there may be a storm brewing in the peaceful world of cloud storage.
Google has embraced buoyancy and is poised to join Apple in the wild blue yonder, signaling the commencement of a battle for supremacy in the digital stratosphere. Google’s new cloud-based service, Google Play, is the amalgamation of Google Music, Google eBookstore and the Android Market. According to Wired.com, the Google Play Store is the restructured and reinvented identity of the Android Market, but will feature the same selection of books, music and movies already available on Android Market, allowing a smooth transition for users.
Google hopes people who went to the old Android Market to buy apps will purchase other types of content as well, such as electronic books or albums, making the Google Play Store a one-stop shop for all things digital. Its biggest drawback is in the music department, though, as only three of the four major recording labels—Universal Music, EMI Group Ltd. and Sony Music Group—have agreed to offer their material in the Android Market. Warner Music Group remains stubborn even as Android gives way to Google Play, leaving Apple and iTunes at the pinnacle of the digital music retail business.
And for the love of Bill Gates we can’t forget that Microsoft is in on the fluffy fun, too. Its SkyDrive cloud service is set to debut in Windows 8, meaning that the Titanic Triumvirate of Google, Apple and Microsoft are all competing in the aeronautical arena. This is where the lightning bolts start flashing.
An issue of contention arises with the topics of storage and payment. According to Wired.com, users should make sure they’re on a Wi-Fi connection before using Google Play or they may have to dish out big money for mobile data. Google will have to decide exactly how they want to handle the economics, but users can take solace in Google Play’s policy of no storage costs. This may up Google’s attraction as iCloud offers a somewhat stingy 5GB of storage and it’s rumored that SkyDrive will implement an annual fee for heavy users.
With Google’s introduction of Google Play, the Cloud War has officially begun, and this condensation crusade isn’t likely to dissipate any time soon.