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Amazon Cloud Drive, the online retailer’s most recent foray into web-based storage and media streaming, has a fatal flaw, according to online storage provider Box.net’s chief executive Aaron Levie — it can’t share content between accounts.
That’s what has made other online storage and collaboration services incredibly popular. Online storage provider Dropbox, for example, is one of Y Combinator’s most successful startups and one of its core features is sharing content with other Dropbox users. That company also has an iPhone app and other mobile applications that let Dropbox users quickly access the content and media from other devices. Box.net has also seen an enormous amount of success after recently closing a funding round worth $48 million — and that service also revolves around collaboration and file-sharing.
“The power of having your data in the cloud, as opposed to stored locally or on a remote disk, is that you can instantly and easily share with people you trust,” Levie said in a blog post. “Amazon will need to create a compelling experience around sharing your media or content frictionlessly.”
After experimenting with the service, it does feel a whole lot like Dropbox and other online storage providers — it has a simple file access system, previews and some other rudimentary commands. But it does not look like there is any way to share that content with other Amazon Cloud Drive users. Then again, that could lead to a whole web of copyright issues — something nimble startups like Dropbox can typically evade or absorb, but a supergiant like Amazon might want to avoid.
It looks like Amazon’s Cloud Drive is not geared toward the enterprise, given that it’s using a very consumer-friendly freemium model that made Dropbox successful. Freemium services like Amazon entice users with a taste of the service and then charge for premium services — such as additional storage or new features. It’s a different market, but the lessons are just about the same — it’s all online storage, Levie said.
Cloud Drive allows users to upload their music and other files and access them on a PC, Mac or any Android device. The first 5 gigabytes of storage are free with an annual fee for additional space. Anyone who buys an album from Amazon gets an additional 20 gigabytes of storage for a year. The service works with newer Internet Explorer browsers, along with Safari, Firefox and Chrome. It does not work with the Opera browser.