Apple is the leading consumer cloud storage provider, beating out Dropbox, Amazon and Google according to a new survey.
The survey of 2,300 consumers who regularly use the Internet was conducted in October by research firm Strategy Analytics. It found that 27% of consumers have used Apple's iCloud followed by 17% for Dropbox, 15% for Amazon Cloud Drive and 10% for Google Drive.
The survey results also indicated that more than half of Americans online (55% of those surveyed) have never used a cloud storage service. Among consumers who have used one, one third (33%) had done so in the past week.
Not surprisingly, the use of consumer cloud storage is heavily skewed toward younger people, in particular 20-24 year olds, while Apple's service is the only one with more female than male users, the survey showed. Among the four most-used services, Google's is the one most heavily skewed toward men.
The survey revealed that cloud storage is overwhelmingly dominated by music, and around 90% of Apple, Amazon and Google cloud users store music files. Even Dropbox, which is not specifically associated with any type of content, sees around 45% of its users storing music files. In December, Dropbox acquired streaming music service Audiogalaxy, which will add a 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," Ed Barton, Strategy Analytics director of digital media, said in a news release.
Additionally, Barton said, the growth of video streaming and the desire to access content through 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."
"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," Barton said.
Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is email@example.com.