Amazon is the latest internet giant to throw itself into the photo:tech space by offering its Prime members free unlimited photo storage. After Yahoo with Flickr ( not unlimited), Dropbox ( not free nor unlimited and not a giant yet), Google ( via Google +), Facebook ( not a direct service but apparently no limits to how many pictures you can upload), Microsoft with OneDrive ( not free) along with a plethora  of smaller size businesses, photo storage has become a major battleground.

The reasons are well know and we wrote about them previously : Whoever owns your photos also owns your attention. And attention has a value than can be transformed into dollars. Social media companies know this very well but Amazon is not, nor does it want to be, a social media platform. It’s an e-commerce retailer. So why want to control where you store your photos?

For one, photo storage is an online starting point. That is a place where a lot of people first access the internet. Search is another, Weather, Stocks and email are also recurring starting points. They are the entryway into an individual’s browsing session and as such are critical to where they will go next. Owning their attention as they step in the internet is a huge advantage, especially if like Amazon, you are trying to sell them something.

Second, Amazon has perfected dependable massive cloud storage to a leadership position. So much so that while averaging $1.2 billion a quarter, it is showing signs of slowing down. The growth, that is, not the revenue. In order to sustain the growth, the retailer has to penetrate new markets beyond enterprise services. Offering photo storage is a powerful entry point into other consumer facing cloud services ( Dropbox should worry).

Finally, while they do not offer any  of the photo management tools like some of their competitors do,  editing, search, sharing, it does have an easy way to differentiate itself quickly if needed. Using Firefly, its powerful object recognition already in place in mobile, it could quickly allow hot linking of products in images to its store.  So if I wanted to know what was that cool toy my nephew was playing with on the beach last summer when I took pictures of him, it would not only tell me but show me where to order it. Click, upload, discover, buy. All within Amazon properties.

Obviously, we are not there yet and there is no confirmation that Amazon will turn this feature on. In the meantime, by enticing users to upload all their family memories and award-winning snapshot on their servers, they  secure strong emotional bonds that will guarantee them consumer loyalty for a very long time. People will think twice about cancelling their prime membership if they have thousands of images stored on their servers. And just that is worth it weight in gold.


Photo by ggallice

Author: Paul Melcher

Paul Melcher is a highly influential and visionary leader in visual tech, with 20+ years of experience in licensing, tech innovation, and entrepreneurship. He is the Managing Director of MelcherSystem and has held executive roles at Corbis, Stipple, and more. Melcher received a Digital Media Licensing Association Award and is a board member of Plus Coalition, Clippn, and Anthology, and has been named among the “100 most influential individuals in American photography”


  1. Free and Unlimited? If only when your unlimited storage is limited to 5GB. I shoot more than that on a single outing. Amazon is using “Free and Unlimited” like a bait and switch. Just a marketing lure for the Amazon Cloud page. With all due respect, I would report to readers who need storage space where to get it from other respected vendors.

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