Paul Grim: Amazon Cloud Locker and the Stuff Wars

As George Carlin once famously opined, life is really all about finding places to put your stuff. On that note, here is a Carlinesque take on the recent Amazon announcement about Amazon Cloud Locker and Cloud Player. To paraphrase, from his timeless stand-up:

So over the past 10 years, everyone’s personal collection of digital stuff has exploded in size. Stuff to listen to, stuff to look at, stuff you work on, etc. Most of this stuff we used to keep on our hard drives, until of course your hard drive fails (and it always does eventually), and often enough you end up losing your stuff. And losing your stuff really, really sucks.

But then bits and pieces of your stuff could be saved from destruction by putting it somewhere else – “The Cloud” (which used to be known as the Internets, but that doesn’t sound nearly as cute and fluffy).You gave stuff to Facebook, Flickr, Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, and many other stuff stewards (which was fine unless you were that one poor guy who lost all his stuff on Flickr). Maybe you even started putting stuff on Box.net, Dropbox, Mozy or Carbonite – which wasn’t that different from putting your stuff on your hard drive, but I guess copying your stuff and putting it in lots of places is a good way to keep your stuff from disappearing.

So far, so good. But the media and entertainment companies who sold you some of your stuff are really paranoid that you might copy that stuff and give it away to all your friends (and honestly, everyone under 30 probably gets their stuff from BitTorrent so it’s a valid concern). So they have managed to keep the likes of Google and Apple from letting you stream your stuff to wherever you are. So now you’ve got stuff on your iPhone, your iPad, your work PC, your home PC, your kids’ PC, your TiVo, your AppleTV, your Roku – as George says, the supply lines are getting thin.

So Amazon steps in all of a sudden and says, to hell with all that – it’s your stuff, you can put it wherever you damn well please! Now their Locker isn’t much different from the Dropbox/Mozy guys – the only difference that I can see is that Amazon definitely owns the server farms where they’ll put your stuff, so maybe that feels better. [Imagine that: there's a whole industry built around watching over your stuff!] But the Cloud Player is a poke in the eyes of the media and entertainment lawyers who want to keep you from using our stuff any way you see fit – should be interesting to see who wins this battle in the Stuff Wars.

Paul Grim is a founder and general partner with SunBridge Partners. He tweets here and writes a blog called Grim Times.

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