Be Careful Out there Cloud Players

Today is the day. You woke up this morning to the news that there is a major player out there who released one of those fabled “cloud players” to the internet for all to use. But, surprise! It’s not Apple. That’s ok. They’ll get around to it. And when they do, it will be AWESOME!! Right? Right? Yeah, you keep on believing that. I’m about to temper your dream for “cloud music” for the forseeable future.

You see, I was where you are now. About six months ago, I looked around for a cloud player where I could put all of my music. I was simplifying my life. I had sold my Macbook Pro in exchange for a Macbook Air. I even ditched my iPhone in favor of the iPod Touch with a Virgin Mobile Mifi. Yeah, I’m one of those Google Voice/SIP client people. My new laptop, while incredibly light, does not have enough room for all of my music.

At first Google search, I couldn’t find anything. But, after a few days, I found one. It’s called Audiobox.fm. After a little detective work, I discovered they are based in Italy. I have no idea if they have rights secured from the major record labels. But, you know what, I chose not to ask. What they could (and still do), is let you upload your music tracks to their servers and play them from the mythical “cloud”. Not only can you play your music from a web browser of course (The interface is creepily similar to iTunes). But, you can also play it from an iOS device. Yes, yes you can. They have an iPhone app. I know. The popular myth is that Apple keeps things pretty well locked down. But, trust me. It’s there. Go look.

What I’m going to attempt to do here is explain the steps of acceptance your going to go through over the next 30-45 days. It’s ok. I’m not doing this to hurt you. I don’t want to dissuade you from exploring or even using Amazon’s new cloud service. Or Apple’s. Or even Google’s. Just be aware of what it is. And what will happen. Remember, I’m doing this for you.

Everybody sees the possibilities here. You have this great smart phone in your pocket. But, you also have an iPod. You’d like to have just one. But, how can that be. Your smart phone doesn’t have enough room to carry all of your music. Well, lo and behold. Look at that. Amazon is here to help you. You can upload all of your music and take it with you wherever you go. And because it’s in the “cloud” you have access to it everywhere! Isn’t that great?

Well, it is. The first month with Audiobox.fm was great. Dare I say amazing. No matter where I was, I had my music. Well, that was if I could get a signal. You all know the drill by now. You know to cut off conversations because as you approach that particular intersection or that bend in the road, your going to lose the call. But, it doesn’t just happen  to voice. It happens to the internet service as well. So, as your listening to your favorite tune on that playlist you love,                                                              everything will go silent for a few seconds. Or maybe a minute. Maybe, you’ll have to restart the track because the application can’t recover. But, hey it happens. Why worry? Afterall, your living in the future. Everything is in the cloud!

So, you put up with the headaches. The little annoyances to living in the future.

Then, comes the bill. See, you probably don’t have unlimited data on that smart phone do you? I did. I had an iPhone with unlimited data. It was great. i was listening to Pandora in the car. Heck. I had turned off XM radio in exchange for Pandora on my iPhone connected to my dash. What are you laughing at? But, my bill was $90 a month. I hardly ever talked on the phone. And along came this service change from Virgin Mobile that promised unlimited data for $40 a month. Oh, I’m telling you. They came along at the right time for me to bite. And boy, did I bite hard. You might have heard that last month, Virgin Mobile decided that people like me were hogging bandwidth. They did away with that plan. And instituted a kind of cap. I can stay on this plan as long as I keep paying monthly. And if I go over 5GB in a billing cycle, they reserve the right to throttle me down to 256kbps. Even though, I try to listen to music that “physically” resides on my iPod. And I download podcasts before I leave the house in the morning and before I leave campus in the afternoon, I still ended up with 10GB of data used last month.

Now, do you know what your data cap is? If not, you should look. It’s ok. Go ahead. I’ll be right here waiting. Got it? Good. Is it 10GB? No? Oh, that sucks. I won’t dive into a lot of numbers and do the research for you. Because, quite frankly, I don’t have the time. And you know what your data cap is. I’d say most people have a 2GB or 5GB cap.

“So, what will happen if I go over that cap?”

Oh, you poor thing. You should sit down for this. Remember the old days of cellular when you would end up in a roaming area at the beginning of that long phone call from your mom who had plenty of minutes because she was calling from a land line? Remember the bill you got from that call? Yeah. It’s not going to be pretty.

“But, I just won’t listen to a lot of music.” Really? Ok. Give it a shot. But, think back. How often do you listen to music. Most people like to listen to their music a lot. It adds up.

I’m not staying up late, writing this post to keep you from using these services. Just go in with your head up and your eyes open. Upload a playlist. Now listen to it from time to time. Then after a couple days or a week, go check out your data usage. Cell phone infrastructure will improve over time. And I do believe that the caps we operate under today will eventually go away. Companies like Apple, Amazon and Google are laying the pipe now, to beat each other for your eventual business. I say let them fight things out. The bottleneck, if you haven’t figured out my point yet, is the telecom companies. It will improve. I have faith. It just won’t be today. And it won’t be tomorrow. I know. I’ve been there.

Good luck.

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About Frogtosser

A former sailor and pizza maker who is done hiding from the world and is now living life to it's fullest extent. I'm a single speed bicycle commuter who enjoys writing and photography. I'm a voracious reader. And a huge geek!
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