I've been trying to decide whether Amazon's decision to offer unlimited cloud storage for photos to its Prime subscribers is a big deal. And ultimately, I have to say, no, it isn't. It's certainly not in any way comparable to Microsoft's game-changing decision to make truly unlimited cloud storage available to its Office 365 subscribers.
What I mean by that is that by offering Prime subscribers unlimited cloud storage for photos (and photos only), Amazon is providing another nicety, or perk, to its most important customers. But this decision doesn't alter the landscape in any way. That is, no one is going to stop using OneDrive, Flickr, Google Photos, or iCloud and switch to Amazon because of this change. And since that's the case, this doesn't really change anything beyond making life just a tiny bit easier for some Amazon customers.
Here's what's happening.
Amazon offers a service called Prime that provides two-day shipping on many (but not all) physical product orders. It costs $100 per year, so if you buy a lot of stuff from Amazon, like I do, it's a no-brainer. And you can get many of these items the next day for just an additional $3.99. Amazon Prime is a neat idea, but the online retailer has kind of taken it to the next level by adding digital perks to something that is essentially a physical goods service. So if you subscribe to Prime, you gain access to Amazon's Netflix-like streaming video service, Amazon's Pandora-like streaming music service, and a few other goodies.
With this week's change, Prime subscribers also gain unlimited storage for photos at a new digital service called Amazon Photos. The firm has also offered a service called Cloud Drive that lets you store up to 5 GB of any file types for free, but users of Amazon's Fire Phone and Fire tablets can store an unlimited amount of photos there as well.
In some ways, this change mirrors what Microsoft did with OneDrive and Office 365, in that Amazon is making cloud storage a feature of another paid service, in this case Prime. But the big difference, in my mind, is that Amazon is only letting you store photos. That's a nice perk, for sure. But it's a big limitation compared to what Microsoft is offering. (And for the same price or less: An Office 365 Home subscription will provide 5 people with unlimited OneDrive storage for any file types whereas a Prime subscription will provide one person with unlimited Amazon Photos storage for photos only; both cost $99 per year.) Prime Photos is US-only, too.
Anyway, if you are a Prime subscriber, and live in the United States, check out Amazon Photos. And then get back to backing up your photos to OneDrive. (And if you were actually paying Amazon for cloud storage, consider moving on.)