Apple may not have the best reputation for online services but that hasn’t stopped its iCloud online storage service from becoming the most-used cloud service in the United States. A new report from Strategy Analytics shows that 27% American web users user iCloud, giving it a lead of 10 percentage points over runner-up Dropbox, which is used by 17% of American web users. What makes Dropbox’s share remarkable is that, as Strategy Analytics notes, it “has no associated content ecosystem,” which should seemingly put it at a disadvantage compared to iCloud, Amazon’s (AMZN) Cloud Drive and Google (GOOG) Play. So the fact that Dropbox ranks only behind Apple for the title of America’s most-used cloud service is impressive, especially for a company that Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer recently dismissed as a “little startup.” Strategy Analytics’ full press release is posted below.
Apple is dominating the cloud storage wars, followed by Dropbox, Amazon and Google according to Strategy Analytics ‘Cloud Media Services’ surve. In a recent study of almost 2,300 connected Americans, Strategy Analytics found that 27% have used Apple’s iCloud followed by 17% for Dropbox, 15% for Amazon Cloud Drive and 10% for Google Play (see chart).
Usage of cloud storage is heavily skewed towards younger people, in particular 20-24 year olds, whilst Apple’s service is the only one with more female than male users. Amongst the big four, Google’s is the one most heavily skewed towards males.
Cloud storage is overwhelmingly dominated by music; around 90% of Apple, Amazon and Google’s cloud users store music. Even Dropbox – which has no associated content ecosystem – sees around 45% of its users storing music files. Dropbox’s recent acquisition of Audiogalaxy will add a much needed native music player to the platform in the coming months.
“Music is currently the key battleground in the war for cloud domination. Google is tempting users by giving away free storage for 20,000 songs which can be streamed to any Android device, a feature both Amazon and Apple charge annual subscriptions for,” observes Ed Barton, Strategy Analytics’ Director of Digital Media. “However, the growth of video streaming and the desire to access content via a growing range of devices will see services such as the Hollywood-backed digital movie initiative Ultraviolet – currently used by 4% of Americans – increase market share.”
Barton continues, “The cloud’s role in the race to win over consumers’ digital media libraries has evolved from a value added service for digital content purchases to a feature-rich and increasingly device agnostic digital locker for music and movies. Dropbox being used by 1 in 6 Americans shows that an integrated content storefront isn’t essential to build a large user base, however we expect competition to intensify sharply over the coming years.”
Strategy Analytics found that, the big four cloud storage services aside, recognition of other brands was uniformly low. Furthermore 55% of connected Americans have never used a cloud storage service – although, amongst consumers who have used one, one third (33%) had done so in the last week.
“There needs to be considerable investment in evangelizing these services to a potentially willing yet largely oblivious audience,” suggests Barton. “Given the size of bet Hollywood is making with Ultraviolet, this will be essential to their success given a crowded market and widespread apathy. However, more fundamental questions remain – is the use of more than one cloud service going to be too much for consumers to handle and will consolidation in such a fragmented market become inevitable?”
Barton concludes, “Although cloud storage is fast becoming a key pillar of digital platform strategies for the world’s leading device manufacturers and digital content distributors, there’s still a lot of work to do in educating consumers – particularly those over 45. With over half of consumers yet to use any consumer cloud based service, 2013 predictions for the ‘year of the cloud’ seem unrealistic. However given the market influence of the leading players pushing the concept, in particular Apple, Amazon, Google and Ultraviolet, I won’t be surprised to see mainstream adoption and usage spike within the next two to three years in the key US market.”