Looking at the world of media: from music to RIA.

The Return of Remote Media Storage Services?

December 2nd, 2005 Posted in General Media / Stuff

With whispers of a new dot-com v2.0 in the air we are seeing more and more start-ups appearing. It’s is becoming an odd deja-vu experience for me the more I read and hear about what is in the works.

One thing that I am seeing is the return of one-stop media management services. For a while in the late 90’s / early Aught’s there were a few services popping up offering online media storage where you can store your media files, images or documents. Most were limited by storage or they faced the challenge that most users only had dial-up and due to the bandwidth limitation they were not realistic options for consumer usage.

With today’s growth in high-speed data services, the promise of plentiful bandwidth is finally coming true (10 years later then promised, but hey, its here now). Bandwidth is no longer the killer bottleneck that faced so many multimedia firms and services. Thanks to these shackles being removed we can now see some really exciting ideas being put into play.

A popular service, that I love but since my camera was stolen I have not fully exploited, is the wonderful Flickr. When I first heard about Flickr, I really didn’t get the service, mostly because the people I know where putting up funny photo sets like 404 messages or uploading directly from their shitty cell phone camera. Now that I have used it for a while it is amazing what it offers. At first glance it appears to be a storage bin where you can put and organize your photos, but with a seemingly simple twist, you can share these images and make them public.

With this option we have seen an amazing amount of things come out of this. At first it was simple things like image Memes, such as the cool “Transparent Desktop” or the 700 hobo’s image gallery. I kind of expected these kinds of memes to appear, but what really blew my mind was instant photo journalism. This became most apparent to me with the London Underground bombings occurred. Within minuets of the bombing, citizens where uploading cell phone camera pictures to their Flickr account. It was stunning, seeing unfiltered images moments after they occurred being supplied by non-mainstream media sources.

I am getting a little off topic here, but the reason I am mentioning the success and redefinition of Flickr is that other companies and startups are looking at what Flickr did and they are trying to offer similar services based on the initial concept. For example, over at Boing Boing they reported about the launch of the MP3Tunes Locker. Started by Michael Robertson, founder of the legendary dot-com MP3.com, MP3Tunes Locker is a service that allows you to store and manage your music using a dedicated remote service.

It seamlessly integrates with iTunes, offers remote access using the Oboe software were you can log in, sync and backup you music. It works with not only MP3s, but pretty much every known audio encoding type out there. Here is a way to manage your music and store it safely in a remote location, create playlists and then sync your machines. I have to admit that I am at the moment only intellectually interested in this service, and I will watch it, but it’s not something that just grabs me. If I did a lot of traveling or had multiple locations that I wanted to manage my music then this may be more interesting. I do have some questions about them, such as who is their target market? Can my friends stream my music? Why should I use this service, what are the benefits?

Another new service just launched called “Glide Effortless”. I found this site via Slashdot and it seems to be a true all-in-one media/document storage and media management system. Glide Effortless is offering sharing of your documents, personal contacts, email, images, videos, and music. The goal, I am assuming, is to provide you with one simple location with built in management and sharing tools to help organize your media.

Again, this is a very interesting concept and pretty daring to offer all these services at one time. What I feel will be the most interesting feature of this is how users take advantage of the system. What kind of communities will be built around this, what kind of adoption will we see? Will this kind of service take off? What needs are these services filling? Also, what kind of security do I have with this service? Are my files safe if I don’t want them public? Is this designed only for public files?

These are the kinds of questions I think of when I read about these kinds of services. At the moment this kind of organization and off-site management does not call out to me, but then again it was the same way with Flickr at first. It will be interesting to see what the early adopters have to say about the service and how they take advantage of it.

UPDATE: Here is a really good break down about Oboe http://digitalmusic.weblogsinc.com/entry/1234000263070731/

  1. One Response to “The Return of Remote Media Storage Services?”

  2. By Lunchmeat on Dec 2, 2005

    One immediate benefit I can see of the mp3 locker is the ability to back up your mp3 purchases without having to burn them all to cd – something people have complained about for years…I’d like to see some other benefits though.

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