CNET reports that Amazon is in talks to launch a cloud-based digital media locker service, which would store not only the movies, music, and e-books it sells but also allow consumers to upload their own such content. The company is reportedly in the process of negotiating with content partners, but could announce the project before the negotiations are complete.
The article also notes that Apple and Google are in the process of testing their own locker services, and suggests Amazon wants to beat them to the punch. Of course, Amazon has already been providing a number of cloud-based services, such as allowing redownload of e-books it sells and offering movie streaming at no additional charge to Amazon Prime members. This would be the first time it’s let consumers host their own media online, however.
It would not be the first such service, at least as far as music is concerned. Michael Robertson launched MP3Tunes as a place where people could store their own music for remote streaming after the courts shut down MP3.com’s CD-authentication-based streaming service. It is currently under legal challenge by the record labels.
Of course, if Amazon were to get license approval from those content providers, this would presumably allow customers to store their music online without having to worry about record label disapproval—not to mention e-books, movies, and other media. It might even be possible for Amazon to build in Calibre-like e-book conversion capability, so that books in EPUB or other formats could be converted over for Kindle use on upload.
On the e-book side, Ibis Reader allows people to upload their own non-DRM’d EPUB files to be read anywhere, or to make use of Calibre catalogs stored on Dropbox. Likewise, a number of iOS e-readers such as GoodReader can make use of files stored within Dropbox as well. And for that matter, purchased e-books have always been stored in the cloud by e-book vendors all the way back to eReader and Fictionwise in the late ‘90s—though they weren’t using those terms back then.
The cloud does worry a number of consumer advocates in that it is a very short way from making sold content available for download to no longer allowing consumers to download what they pay for. But those sorts of moves don’t seem to be in the offing just yet.
(This story was also covered in our sister blog, Gadgetell.)