updated 06:54 pm EDT, Thu March 21, 2013
Around 55 percent of those surveyed said they don't use cloud services
Marketing and analysis firm Strategy Analytics has released the results of a new study into the use of cloud media storage services, noting that Apple's iCloud and iTunes Match have captured the majority share at 27 percent (combined) US marketshare and revealing a tighter-than-expected horse race between Dropbox and Amazon Cloud Drive for second most-popular cloud media service.
Apple's iCloud and iTunes Match had a clear win in terms of popularity at 27 percent, with Dropbox in second at 17 percent and Amazon's Cloud Drive at 15 percent. Google Drive was at 10 percent share with other services, like Ultraviolet and Samsung Music Hub at four and three percent share respectively.
The large lead enjoyed by Apple is due at least in part to the widespread use of iCloud for email and syncing, but Strategy Analytics did not focus on those uses and asked survey respondents only if they had ever consciously stored music, movies or games on any "cloud" storage service, suggesting that iTunes Match has proven more popular than previously believed. The Match service, with its $25 annual fee, allows users to store copious quantities of music online and have instant access to it on their mobile devices, giving them a much larger library than the device itself could hold.
According to the survey, music storage accounted for 90 percent of the media storage on iCloud/iTunes Match, Amazon and Google's services. Music made up 45 percent of the media even stored on Dropbox, a company markets its storage more for documents, photos and work project storage than multimedia. Dropbox's recent acquisition of Audiogalaxy will provide the service with a native music player, which could increase the company's reach among streaming-music users.
The report also revealed that the most popular demographic for cloud storage was younger people, particularly the 20-24 age group, and that only Apple's service had more female than male users. Google Drive was the most heavily skewed towards males.
Strategy Analytics points out, however, that 55 percent of those surveyed say they don't use any cloud media service at all, particularly in the older demographics. Those who do use such services, however, tend to use them often -- about a third said they had accessed their cloud-stored media within the last week.
The report also expressed concern about the "fragmentation" of multiple cloud services and whether that would lead to consumer confusion. It also noted that cloud services promoted by large media conglomerates -- Ultraviolet and OnLive as examples -- had thus far failed to make a significant impact with consumers. Given that cloud media storage is (so far) mostly used by younger, tech-savvy users, the report concludes that truly mainstream acceptance of cloud-based media storage as a routine part of the mobile and computing experience is still a few years off.