When it comes to my opinion on the cloud, it comes from personal experience, over the past few years. I tend to heckle people who have shifted towards the cloud over the past year or two, and mock the cloud. In most cases, their choice is probably valid, because they don’t live in the same environment that I do, living last mile. However, even when I didn’t live last mile, I had issues with services that were based in the cloud, that have solidified my views. Just to note, when I’m talking about the cloud, I’m referring to the consumer side, it has different use case than that of using the cloud from a business perspective, which I’m mostly behind.
One of the people I tend to mock, quite often, is Louis Gray, who just wrote a post titled, “While Amazon Chokes on Lady Gaga, Spotify Flows“. In it he tries to promote Spotify, to US consumers (who can’t even use it), in the face of Amazon’s issues with users, trying to download Lady Gaga’s latest album for $0.99. The fact is that I would rather own the music, that rely on someone else’s right to license the music to consumers. If the service falters, I lose access to the music, and possibly my playlists.
To many, a failure might seem unlikely, but I doubt most of them have suffered through a failure in the service, or even a complete shutdown of the service. I happen to have experienced this on more than one occasion with since fallen services: SpiralFrog and Ruckus. I still remember how I waited patiently for my beta invite for 9 months, to get into Spiral Frog, I finally received my invite into the private beta on 8/31/07. Now I wasn’t much of a music fan, up to that point, only listening to VH1 in the mornings, and various metal bands in school. However, after I started getting acquainted with Spiralfrog, my library ballooned to 6000+ tracks in a few months.
The first failure came around January 2008, when I decided to reformat my system back to just Vista, rather than the dual-boot (Vista/Ubuntu) I had been running for my CS coursework. In the process, I managed to screw up and invalidated all the files, because of how the DRM worked. So I had to start downloading them all over again, at the same time I picked up on Ruckus, and started using them, again my collection ballooned upwards of 4000+ between them. In April of 2008, I moved home, where we were still using dial-up. So over time, the files either expired, or I didn’t feel like re-downloading the updated keys, to keep them going. Eventually, I just stopped using them, because it wasn’t worth the time or effort to keep up with, and they both went under, permanently invalidating any files I might have had left.
So towards the end of 2008, I started purchasing the media I wanted to listen, too. Originally, from iTunes, and then from Amazon, over the past 6 months or so. I like it this way, because I don’t have to worry about the service ending, access being invalidated, or some other circumstances where I don’t have control over them. I have little trust of the cloud, because of my experience of using it before, and how freaking annoying it is when it does fail. It’s wonderful when it works, but there are no guarantees, about it.
Spotify, is profitable in Sweden, but is operating at a loss, across all of it’s markets, and still hasn’t come to the US. As I’m sure other companies are dealing with similar circumstances, of managing the label contracts, as well as the stiff competition. Cloud music is a reality, but not if you expect long-term reliability, at least for the next few years. I expect Amazon, Google, iTunes, or one of the others to be the leader of the pack, but not Spotify, at least in the US. Amazon’s solution and Google’s solution, uploading files to their service, don’t thrill me, because of the tendency for low upload speeds on consumer networks.