WIRED: The steady march towards cheaper cloud storage has just turned into a sprint. Rather than being merely competitive with leaders like Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud, Amazon has decided to undercut their pricing by more than half. In some cases, much, much more.
Amazon’s Unlimited Everything plan means that you now can stash all of your digital stuff in your own private Amazon cloud locker for $60 per year. That’s compared to the $100 per year that individual Dropbox users pay for a plan capped at 1TB (there’s also a $15 per month unlimited plan for business accounts), $120 per year for 1TB on Google Drive, and $240 for the same amount on iCloud. Throw in Amazon’s three-month free trial offer—and consider that truly unlimited plans aren’t even an option for individual users on most rival services—and the unprecedented value of Amazon’s Unlimited Everything Plan comes more into focus.
For those who don’t need an all-you-can-store solution, Amazon has also introduced an Unlimited Photos Plan, which for $12 per year lands you, well, unlimited photo storage, as well as 5GB of space for other file types. Amazon had previously offered a 5GB per month plan for free; it’s not clear whether those customers will be transitioned over to the paid photo-friendly plan, or will be upgraded to Unlimited Photos. We’ve reached out to Amazon for clarification. (Update: Amazon has confirmed to WIRED that Amazon Prime members will continue to receive unlimited photo sharing and 5GB for free, while non-Prime members will need to choose one of the two new paid plans).
It’s hard to stress just how much these new offerings—particularly the Unlimited Everything plan—disrupt the current state of the cloud storage pricing structure. It also seems unlikely that Amazon’s competition will be able to match the pricing, or even come close. Amazon’s in a unique position, in that it’s the dominant cloud services provider. No one else comes particularly close; according to a recent studyfrom Synergy Research Group last, the company has a remarkable 27 percent market share in the space. That’s roughly three times more than Microsoft, its closest competitor.
While most of Amazon’s customers are businesses with large, complex infrastructural needs, the company is able to leverage its massive scale to drive down consumer-facing pricing. The payoffs seem clear enough; the more people are locked into Amazon’s cloud, the more likely they’ll be to buy Amazon’s digital video and music offerings, or even a Kindle Fire tablet. Apple’s system is arguably driven by its App Store, and Google’s by its ubiquity. Amazon appears to be banking on its servers.
Despite the gaudy pricing, there are still reasons you may not want to enlist in Unlimited Everything, or Unlimited Photos. Its user interface, like most of Amazon, can feel sloppy and unintuitive. “Unlimited” has a nice sound to it, but the majority of users currently don’t have much need for more than 1TB, if that. And perhaps most importantly, if you’re already deeply invested an an alternative provider—be it Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, or other—all those savings still might not be worth the hassle of switching.
Still, strictly in terms of price it’s an unarguably great deal. And even if you don’t bite, it should hopefully at least drive unlimited prices down across the entire industry.