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Music Cloud Wars: Amazon Cloud Player vs Apple iCloud vs Google Music

Music Cloud Wars: Amazon Cloud Player vs Apple iCloud vs Google Music

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Published by Tracy Boyer Clark
The music industry has evolved immensely over the past 50 years to a sector that is now based on three key consumer needs: 1) digital file types with on-the-go access, 2) remote streaming and storage, and 3) shared access for a social experience. The invention of the MP3 player satisfied the first need. Cloud technologies are now satisfying the latter two needs. However, the music cloud war is an intense rivalry amongst countless players due to high consumer and supplier power, low switching costs, and low barriers to entry. The three main players battling it out for remote access to purchased music collections at the end of 2011 are Amazon, Apple and Google, although the winner has yet to be determined.
The music industry has evolved immensely over the past 50 years to a sector that is now based on three key consumer needs: 1) digital file types with on-the-go access, 2) remote streaming and storage, and 3) shared access for a social experience. The invention of the MP3 player satisfied the first need. Cloud technologies are now satisfying the latter two needs. However, the music cloud war is an intense rivalry amongst countless players due to high consumer and supplier power, low switching costs, and low barriers to entry. The three main players battling it out for remote access to purchased music collections at the end of 2011 are Amazon, Apple and Google, although the winner has yet to be determined.

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Published by: Tracy Boyer Clark on Nov 23, 2011
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Music Cloud Wars
(Amazon Cloud Player vs Apple iCloud vs Google Music)By Tracy Boyer Clark, 11/23/2011
Executive Summary
The music industry has evolved immensely over the past 50 years to a sector that is now basedon three key consumer needs: 1) digital file types with on-the-go access, 2) remote streaming andstorage, and 3) shared access for a social experience. The invention of the MP3 player satisfiedthe first need. Cloud technologies are now satisfying the latter two needs. However, the musiccloud war is an intense rivalry amongst countless players due to high consumer and supplier  power, low switching costs, and low barriers to entry. The three main players battling it out for remote access to purchased music collections at the end of 2011 are Amazon, Apple and Google,although the winner has yet to be determined.
The Musical Evolution
The music evolution within the past 50 years began with vinyl records, and then transitioned tocassette tapes in the 1980s before cds became the impromptu standard in the 1990s. The beginning of the 20th century saw a poignant shift away from cds to digital music files with thelaunch of iTunes in 2003.While music transitioned from physical to digital copies, it also shifted from local to mobile. Thelaunch of the Walkman and portable cd player in the 1990s allowed users to listen to music on-the-go, even though they still had to have access to their main collection. Coinciding with thetransition to digital, the introduction of MP3 players enabled consumers to leave their musiccollection in one place but still access it wherever they went. Most recently, Internet access andcloud technology have enabled consumers to stream music remotely and on-the-go.The shift from physical and local collections to digital and mobile collections has also preemptedthe transition from personal consumption of music toward social and shared usage. Asresearchers Sease and McDonald noted:“Future media management systems have an opportunity to see beyond the “onecollector” blinders, establishing identity management, possibly in the form of traditional user accounts, for various members of a home, allowing simultaneousmerging and segmenting of collections, and adding features that would facilitatecuratorial and custodial tasks.”
1
Media Lifecycle
The three major transitions detailed above (physical
digital; local
mobile; personal
shared)have affected all portions of the media lifecycle, which includes six key phases: learning,acquiring, listening, sharing, organizing and collecting.
1
Sease, R. and McDonald, D. W. (2009). Musical Fingerprints: Collaboration Around Home Media Collections. In Proceedings of the ACM2009 International Conference on Supporting Group Work (GROUP '09). ACM, New York, NY, 331-340.
 
Tracy ClarkPage 211/23/2011
Learning:
Whereas before when consumers typically learned of new music via word-of-mouth,today consumers are more likely to find new music through incidental information acquisitionvia social networks and online searching and browsing habits.
Acquiring:
According to Sease and McDonald, people acquire music in order to haveimmediate and permanent access, to have better control of the ‘programming’, and/or for the joyof collecting a complete set. “Expense largely informs acquisition” where access to cheap or freemedia resulted in large collections.
2
 Thus, today’s digital providers are largely battling over price to facilitate this acquisition driver.Moreover, these providers must focus on connecting their software (where music is learned andacquired) with their hardware (where the following media lifestyle stage of listening occurs).According to a 2009 study by Brinegar and Capra, 67% of respondents synced their device inorder to acquire new music. Fifteen percent synced to change or delete music, and another 9%synced to acquire new podcasts.
3
Thus, only 9% of respondents connected their software withhardware to do something other than acquire music (mostly to charge their battery).
Listening:
Researchers Bentley, Metcalf and Harboe found that today’s listeners often selectmusic in a “satisficing nature,” where the search for a song ends once an alternative is closeenough to the pre-determined aspiration. This is largely due to the immense collection of digitalfiles and inability to thoroughly search the collection.
4
Therefore, digital providers must facilitateintuitive search and organizational capabilities to sort, sift and search a music collection. 
Sharing:
Today, sharing music has been found to be extremely common amongst close friendsand family. However, sharing music publicly and with those outside of their immediate socialcircle is more rare. Brinegar and Capra noted that listeners might be unwilling to share their collections and music preferences due to unperceived and unexpected social implications.Moreover, in terms of sharing music across end devices, they found that “less than half of all 184respondents (41%) indicated that they shared or synchronized all or portions of music collectionsacross multiple computers.” Of those who did, 34% used read/write physical media whereas only10% used the sharing feature on iTunes. Surprisingly, they also found that “people use externaldisk drives, writeable optical media (CDs, DVDs), and email attachments for the purposes of music storage and transfer.”
5
Both the habit of sharing with others and sharing across end devices is rapidly evolving. Today’sdigital providers must enable capabilities to do so, while also providing privacy controls to shareonly portions of collection across a portion of devices if need be.
2
Ibid.
3
Brinegar, J. and Capra, R. (2011). Managing Music Across Multiple Devices and Computers.
 
To appear in Proceedings of the 2011iConference, February 8-11, Seattle, WA.
4
Bentley, F., Metcalf, C., and Harboe, G. (2006). Personal vs. Commercial Content: The Similarities Between Consumer Use of Photos andMusic. In Proceedings of the CHI 2006 Conference. Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 667-676.
5
Brinegar, J. and Capra, R. (2011). Managing Music Across Multiple Devices and Computers. To appear in Proceedings of the 2011iConference, February 8-11, Seattle, WA.
 
Tracy ClarkPage 311/23/2011
Organizing:
According to Brinegar, consumers tend to organize their digital music collectionsimilar to their physical CD collection. Thus, digital providers provide the capability for users toorganize their online collections by song, artist, genre, and other traditional organizationalstructures. However, more recent technology also provides an additional organizational schemato group similar songs using a complex algorithm seen in services like Pandora, which further enables incidental information acquisition.
Collecting:
Bentley found that people collect music based more on their personal connectionwith the media than on evaluations of quality.
6
This is in contrast to Apple’s current businessmodel of only allowing its music to be played locally in the highest quality format possible toensure a flawless experience. On the other hand, in accordance with Bentley’s finding, Googleallows users to change the metadata at the song level to write personal notes, as well as sharetheir music and experience with others using Google+. All service providers are now tackling theissue whether music should be collected locally on a consumer’s hard drive or in the cloud for remote access. Another important component of the collection phase is storage, back up, andrecovery of music, which is a major competitive advantage for cloud technology providers.
Mobile Landscape
Mobile technology is the driving force behind the increasing demand for remote, on-the-goaccess of music, both to stream and download. According to Gartner, worldwide mobileconnections will reach 5.6 billion in 2011, up 11 percent from 5 billion connections in 2010.
7
During the third quarter of 2011, 440.5 million mobile device units were sold worldwide, a 5.6 percent YOY increase. Smartphone devices accessing the Internet made up 26 percent of thequarterly sales.
8
Morgan Stanley predicts the number of mobile Internet users to usurp the number of PC Internetusers by the middle of 2013 as mobile data usage increases and voice usage decreases.
9
 Datausage entails access to both mobile Web sites and mobile apps. The two biggest app providersare Apple’s App Store for its iOS platforms and Google’s Android Marketplace for its AndroidOS platforms.As of November 2011, Apple boasts more than 500,000 active applications in its App Store.
Incomparison, Google boasts a little over 300,000 active applications. However, the number of apps in the Android Market is expected to surpass those in the App store by mid-2012. Duringthe six-month period from August 2010 to February 2011, the Android market saw a 127 percentincrease in apps whereas Apple’s App Store only saw a 44 percent increase.
6
Bentley, F., Metcalf, C., and Harboe, G. (2006). Personal vs. Commercial Content: The Similarities Between Consumer Use of Photos andMusic. In Proceedings of the CHI 2006 Conference. Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 667-676.
7
"Gartner Says Worldwide Mobile Connections Will Reach 5.6 Billion in 2011 as Mobile Data Services Revenue Totals $314.7 Billion." Gartner Inc. 4 Aug. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1759714>.
8
"Gartner Says Sales of Mobile Devices Grew 5.6 Percent in Third Quarter of 2011; Smartphone Sales Increased 42 Percent." Gartner Inc. 15 Nov. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2011.
 
<http://www.gartner.com/it/page.jsp?id=1848514>.
9
"Internet Trends 2010 by Morgan Stanley Research."
Slideshare
. 7 June 2010. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://www.slideshare.net/CMSummit/ms-internet-trends060710final>.
10
"Apple – IPhone 4S – See Apps and Games from the App Store." Apple. Web. 23 Nov. 2011. <http://www.apple.com/iphone/from-the-app-store/>.
11
O'Dell, Jolie. "The Android Market Has Published Half a Million Apps | VentureBeat." VentureBeat. 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2011.<http://venturebeat.com/2011/10/21/android-apps-half-million/>.

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