Amazon’s new Cloud Drive rains on everyone’s parade

This morning’s Observer column.

“Impetuosity and audacity,” wrote Machiavelli, “often achieve what ordinary means fail to achieve.” If you doubt that, may I propose a visit to the upper echelons of Apple, Google and Sony, where steam might be observed venting from every orifice of senior executives? If you do undertake such a visit, do not under any circumstances mention the word “Amazon”.

The proximate cause of all this corporate spleen is the launch last week of Amazon’s Cloud Drive service. At first sight, it seems straightforward: it looks like a digital locker in which one may for a fee securely store one’s digital assets in the internet ‘cloud’. “Anything digital, securely stored,” runs the blurb, “available anywhere.” The first 5GB of storage is free, with more available at an annual cost of a dollar per gigabyte. Upload files to your "cloud drive", where they are stored online and from where they can be accessed by any device that you own.

So far, so innocuous. It’s not the online storage business that has Apple, Google & Co spitting feathers, but the Amazon CloudPlayer which goes along with the digital locker…