Amazon Echo Dot vs. Google Home Mini

Virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana, and the Google Assistant are at times frustratingly limited, but I also think they are the future. It still feels a bit magical when they work well, and they’re improving every day. In fact, as I have been working on this post over the last couple of weeks, I’ve had to update it a number of times as both Google and Amazon have made improvements that conflicted with what I had previously written! So that’s the first thing to know – the device you buy today won’t be the device you have tomorrow.

I’ve had the Amazon Echo Dot since December and the Google Home Mini since February. To be honest, I am surprised at how quickly they’ve become a regular part of our home. Why do we have both? So I can experiment and compare, of course!

Amazon Echo Dot & Google Home Mini

Here’s a category-by-category comparison of each, based on our experience thus far. I’ll generally just refer to “Echo Dot” or “Alexa” and “Home Mini” or “Google Assistant” to make this less verbose.

Wake Word

The “wake word” is the thing you say to trigger the device to start listening. Amazon wins here. Saying “Alexa” is infinitely better than “Hey Google” or “OK Google”. Try saying it a few times, and I think you’ll agree that the latter gets old really fast. You can change the wake word for the Echo Dot, but you can’t obviously do that on the Home Mini (though I’ve read that some people have been able to do this by training the way you say “Hey Google”).

For this reason, I would say the Echo Dot is our go-to device.

Hardware

I like the overall look of the Home Mini better, with its fabric cover and overall sloped shape. Both devices are about the same size, and the Echo Dot really does look like a hockey puck! For usability though, I’d say the Echo Dot wins, for two reasons. First, the lights on the Home Mini are so much harder to see than the light ring on the Echo Dot. The light ring reminds me a little of the Cortana circle with the way it lights up differently depending on what is happening. Second, the physical buttons on the Echo Dot are nice when you want to adjust the volume quickly. You can do it on the touch-sensitive Home Mini, but I never seem to tap in the right place.

I think the audio quality of the Home Mini is better than the Echo Dot, but neither of them are great (you’ll need to go with the larger versions if you want a really good speaker). Both devices support connecting an external speaker via Bluetooth, and the Echo Dot even has an audio out port if you’d rather go with a cable.

Music

This is probably the task we use our devices for the most. We have a small Bluetooth speaker that we move around the house but in the past we’d have to pair it to my phone, or Sharon’s tablet, or whatever device we wanted to use as a source. Now we just leave it paired to the Echo Dot, and ask Alexa to play music that way. There’s a bit of a delay sometimes when powering on the speaker though, so you miss a few seconds of whatever audio the Echo Dot is playing. I’m not sure if that’s an issue with the Echo Dot or with our speaker, but it’s a minor annoyance.

As Amazon Prime members we get access to Prime Music, so that’s pretty great. You can just ask Alexa to play a song, or an artist, or a genre, and it just works. The selection isn’t always as good as Spotify though, so sometimes we’ll specifically ask to play it “on Spotify”. The playlists on Amazon Prime seem fairly limited by comparison.

The great thing about Spotify is how they’ve implemented device management. I can ask Alexa to play something on Spotify, and then I can see and control it on my phone. Or I can be on my computer and play something on Spotify and tell it to play on the Echo Dot. That flexibility just makes the experience so much better.

Music works just fine on the Home Mini too, with either Google Play Music or Spotify. The ability to ask the Google Assistant to “play that hipster song with whistling” is pretty much just a gimmick though, it’s not something I’d ever use in practice.

Timers & Reminders

Setting a timer is the next most frequent task we use the Echo Dot for. I really like that you can name the timers, and it brings me endless joy to hear the way Alexa says “tea timer” (if it doesn’t know what name you’ve used, it just sets an unnamed timer). When the timer is up, Alexa says “your tea timer is done”. In contrast, the Google Assistant just plays a sound, though you can name your timers there too. Both devices let you query how much time is left, pause, resume, or cancel any timers.

Podcasts & News

I use Stitcher for podcasts, and it’s a bit frustrating how specific you need to be with the command for Alexa. I have a news playlist setup and I have to say “Alexa, ask Stitcher to play playlist news” exactly like that in order for it to work. But at least it works! I can’t ask the Home Mini to play playlists on Stitcher, as “voice actions are not available for that app.”

Amazon Echo Dot

That said, the Home Mini might still have the edge when it comes to podcasts. I can simply say “Hey Google, play the Daily podcast” and on comes Michael Barbaro from the New York Times. Or I can open Stitcher on my phone or tablet, and cast the audio to the Home Mini. That’s pretty powerful. I also get a notification on my phone if Sharon starts casting a podcast from her device.

Both devices handle news pretty well. I can simply say “what’s in the news” and both will give me the latest audio updates. Via both apps you can configure the sources and order of the news briefings, too. We use this first thing in the morning most often, while drinking coffee and browsing the newspaper.

We also use our devices to listen to the radio, and though we struggled at first to find the right commands, it turns out you can simply say “listen to CBC Radio One” and it’ll start playing. You can be more specific with Alexa and specify TuneIn.

Home Automation

I’ve experimented with some different brands and settled on TP-Link’s Kasa devices, as they were the least hassle and most reliable in my experience. In the living room, we have the LB120 Smart Wi-Fi A19 LED Bulb, which is dimmable and lets you adjust the color of the white light from 2700K to 6500K. In the nursery we have a Smart Plug Mini with just a normal lamp plugged into it. In the bedroom we have our humidifier plugged into a Smart Plug with Energy Monitoring.

Both the Echo Dot and Home Mini can control these devices – turning them on or off, adjusting settings like color or brightness, etc.

The Kasa devices support “scenes” which let you configure a bunch of settings into one command. For instance, we have one called “Feed Emily” that turns the living room light on to a really warm, dim white. Both Alexa and the Home Mini support this, so we can simply say “turn on Feed Emily” and the scene is executed. I’ll give the Home Mini the edge here, as it automatically discovers new scenes. With Alexa, you have to open the app and “Discover Scenes” in order for it to show up.

Before I had any of these devices, I mostly thought home automation was unnecessary, especially in a small condo like ours. What’s wrong with a simple LED bulb and good old light-switch? But now, carrying Emily into the nursery to change her diaper, it’s incredibly powerful to simply say “Alexa, turn on the nursery light” on the way, no hands required.

Information Lookup

Most of the time we’re asking about the weather or sports scores. Both devices are great at these kinds of queries. Alexa is probably a little better, because her answers are a little more complete. Ask about the temperature and you’ll get the current conditions plus a sentence about what to expect today. That’s two separate queries with the Google Assistant. Likewise, ask Alexa what the score is in the Blue Jay’s game and if it is over, you’ll get the score and when the next game is. Again, two queries with the Google Assistant.

Sometimes our questions are more trivia-like, things like how old someone is, or who was in a particular movie, how far it is between two places, that kind of thing. Generally speaking, the Home Mini wins here, because the Google Assistant is able to give much better answers thanks to Google Search. If it doesn’t know the answer definitively, it’ll give you a brief readout from the top search result. Alexa more often than not simply doesn’t have an answer. There are odd exceptions, of course. For some reason Alexa has no problem telling me how old Genie Bouchard is while the Google Assistant tells me it doesn’t know how to help with that yet. And I would say that Alexa tends to be better at Hollywood-related questions, presumably because Amazon owns IMDB.

Google Home Mini

Information lookup is even better if you have an Android smartphone (or maybe the Google app is enough). I can ask the Home Mini about travel times or bus routes and in addition to a verbal answer, the Google Assistant will popup a card with more information on my phone. Super handy. You can’t do that with Alexa.

Asking for general information is simultaneously the best and worst thing about these devices. When they have the answer, it feels like magic. When they don’t, even for something that seems simple, you can’t help but feel let down.

Calendar

I don’t often use either device for calendar information, to be honest. Mainly because my calendar is always front and centre on my phone, tablet, or desktop. And unlike asking for the weather, listening to a bunch of calendar entries just isn’t as useful as a quick glance.

I use Office 365 and Outlook.com for my calendars. Sharon uses Google Calendar and Outlook.com. We have shared all of our calendars with one another, so they open up just fine on whatever device or app we’re using. We have a shared Family calendar in Outlook.com, and that’s the main one we’d want to inquire about with the Echo Dot or Home Mini.

The Home Mini only supports Google calendars, so the feature is essentially useless for me. The Echo Dot supports Google Calendar, G Suite, Office 365, Outlook.com, and Apple iCloud. You can only link one Microsoft calendar currently though, so you have to choose between Office 365 and Outlook.com. No problem, my Outlook.com has access to all of my calendars, so that’s the one I linked. It works really well, and I can easily ask Alexa about upcoming events. The only issue I ran into is that it only displays 10 of your calendars at a time, so any more than that and Alexa simply won’t see them.

Other

Those are the main things for us thus far. Here are some other random thoughts:

  • While Alexa now supports “Follow-up Mode”, so that you can give multiple commands, it currently isn’t supported in Canada. The Home Mini handles this just fine – I can say “turn on the living room light and what’s the weather” and it does both actions.
  • The Home Mini has a feature to set the volume to a lower level at a certain time, and it would be great if the Echo Dot had this too. Loud responses during the day are fine, but at night, quieter is better, especially with a baby in the house!
  • Sharon and I are mindful that bossing these assistants around likely won’t set the best example for Emily, so we try to remember to say please when issuing a command and “Alexa, thank you” after she responds. It would be nice if this were a little more natural though (not having to use the wake word to say thanks). Amazon must agree, because they have just announced a Kids Edition of the Echo Dot that includes a “Magic Word” feature and other kid-friendly settings. It doesn’t appear to be available in Canada yet, however.
  • Both smartphone apps are pretty similar. They let you see previous commands or queries, configure some settings for the hardware, and set some defaults for the assistant, like your location, language, etc. The Google Home app is better integrated with Android though, of course.
  • We don’t have a Fire TV or Chromecast currently, so I can’t compare the ability to control the TV. We have an Xbox One and regularly use its voice commands. We have said like “Alexa, watch TV” a few times when we meant to say “Xbox, watch TV”.
  • Both “app stores” – Skills for Alexa and Actions on Google for the Google Assistant – seem to be filled with a lot of useless junk. That said, it is nice how the Google Assistant doesn’t require skills to be “installed”. They just work.
  • Both devices let you setup a voice profile. In theory this means Sharon and I could get personalized results. But in practice, we haven’t found a reason or need to take advantage of the feature.
  • As a Windows 10 user I have Cortana on my PC, but I don’t use it, because it’s just so slow. If you want to appreciate just how quickly and seamlessly both Alexa and the Google Assistant respond to your queries, try asking Cortana for something. And don’t even get me started on Siri…

Bottom Line

Amazon Echo Dot & Google Home Mini

So if I was shopping for one today, which device would I go with? The answer is not obvious as there are strengths and weaknesses with both. If you’re fairly invested in the Google ecosystem, go with the Home Mini. If you’re an Amazon Prime member, go with the Echo Dot. Or do what I did and get both! The arms race underway between the two is only going to make them both rapidly better.

Disclosure: This post includes Amazon Affiliate links.

Amazon S3 keeps getting better, now supports versioning

A good thing really can get better! Amazon S3, perhaps the most well-known cloud computing infrastructure service, just got another upgrade. The simple storage service now supports versioning:

Versioning provides an additional layer of protection for your S3 objects. You can easily recover from unintended user errors or application failures. You can also use Versioning for data retention and archiving.

This new feature will give the thousands of websites and services using S3 a quick and easy to way to support undo or file revision histories, among other things. It kind of moves S3 “up the stack” a little, in that it can now do something that developers could have built themselves, but in a simple and easy-to-use way.

Combine this powerful new functionality with Import/Export that launched last year and a couple of recent price drops, and it’s easy to see why Amazon continues to lead the way. Developers continue to make extensive use of the service too. At the end of Q3 2009, there were over 82 billion objects stored in Amazon S3. Just incredible.

I remember when S3 launched back in March 2006, when I was building Podcast Spot, a hosting service for podcasters. It completely changed our business. Global, scalable storage with Amazon worrying about all the details? And for such a small cost? It seemed too good to be true. I’m thrilled to see that S3 just keeps getting better, with relatively frequent price reductions too.

Mountains of data, right at your fingertips

Last week, two announcements caught my eye. The first was from Amazon.com, which announced that there is now more than 1 TB of public data available to developers through its Public Data Sets on AWS project. The second was from the New York Times, which announced its Newswire API, providing access all NYTimes articles as they are published.

This is a big deal. Never before has so much data been so readily available to anyone. The AWS data is particularly interesting. All of a sudden, any developer in the world has cost-effective access to all publicly available DNA sequences (including the entire Human Genome), an entire dump of Wikipedia, US Census data, and much more. Perhaps most importantly, the data is in machine-readable formats. It’s relatively easy for developers to tap into the data sources for cross-referencing, statistical analysis, and who knows what else.

The Newswire API is also really intriguing. It’s part of a growing set of APIs that the New York Times has made available. With the Newswire API, developers can get links and metadata for new articles the minute they are published. What will developers do with this data? Again, who knows. Imagination is the only limitation now that everyone can have immediate access.

Both of these projects remove barriers and will help foster invention, innovation, and discovery. I hope they are part of a larger trend, where simple access to data becomes the norm. Google’s mission might be to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful, but it’s projects like these that are making that vision a reality. I can’t wait to see what comes next!

Amazon Web Services: Still getting better

aws logo I often think back to 2006 when Dickson and I were in the midst of the VenturePrize business plan competition. It was around that time that Amazon.com launched their first web service, the Simple Storage Service (S3). It had a huge impact on our business, and we’ve been extremely happy customers ever since.

Over the last couple of years, Amazon has introduced a number of additional web services, the most well-known of which might be the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). You can think of it like an on-demand computer in the cloud. I had a quick look at it when it launched, but being a Windows shop, we really didn’t have time to invest the extra effort necessary to get it running. Now, Amazon has announced that EC2 will support Windows:

Starting later this Fall, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) will offer the ability to run Microsoft Windows Server or Microsoft SQL Server. Our goal is to support any and all of the programming models, operating systems and database servers that you need for building applications on our cloud computing platform. The ability to run a Windows environment within Amazon EC2 has been one of our most requested features, and we are excited to be able to provide this capability. We are currently operating a private beta of Amazon EC2 running Windows Server and SQL Server.

Very cool news for Windows developers. It should put some extra pressure on Microsoft too – though apparently they are getting ready to launch something. Watch for more news on that at PDC.

Another interesting new service that Amazon is introducing is a Content Delivery Service:

This new service will provide you a high performance method of distributing content to end users, giving your customers low latency and high data transfer rates when they access your objects. The initial release will help developers and businesses who need to deliver popular, publicly readable content over HTTP connections.

It will run atop S3, so anything that currently exists there can easily be added to the new content delivery network. This is very cool, and will finally bring world-class CDN infrastructure to small businesses. I wish they had introduced this two years ago!

Those are both very important improvements to AWS. Amazon is raising the bar, again. When will Microsoft, Google, and others answer?

Also – I just noticed recently that Amazon has redesigned the AWS website. It looks fantastic, in my opinion, and is much easier to navigate. Keep the positive improvements coming!

What if Twitter had been built by Amazon.com's Web Services team?

twitter by aws? I’ve been using Twitter for a long time now, and I can’t remember a period of downtime quite as bad as the current one. Features have been disabled, and there’s no ETA for when everything will be back to normal. Who knows, maybe it won’t ever be. Which got me wondering about why Twitter’s reliability is so terrible. Is it the nature of the application, or is it something to do with the people behind Twitter?

What if Twitter had been built by a different team, a team with a pretty good track record for high-availability services? What if Twitter had been built by the Web Services team at Amazon.com?

I think it’s safe to say that things would be quite different:

  1. Reliable, redundant infrastructure
    Twitter would be run inside Amazon’s high-availability data centers. We would never know (or care) that Twitter’s main database was named db006, nor would we ever wonder whether it has a good backup. We’d just know that if it’s good enough for Amazon, it’s good enough for us.
  2. No wondering, “is Twitter working?”
    Instead of wondering if Twitter is working correctly or waiting for Twitter messages or blog posts that explain what the problem is, Twitter would be part of the AWS Service Health Dashboard. We’d be able to see, at a glance, how Twitter is working now, and how well it has worked for the last month. This is what transparency is all about.
  3. Twitter wouldn’t be free, but we’d be cool with that
    Twitter would have had a business model from day one, and we’d all be cheering about how affordable it is. A pay-as-you-go model like all the other web services from Amazon would work quite well for Twitter. You get what you pay for, right?
  4. Premium Support and SLAs
    Speaking of getting what you pay for, Amazon would likely have realized that there are lots of different types of users, and they’d react accordingly. We’d probably have Premium Support for Twitter, to service support requests more efficiently. We’d also have Service Level Agreements.
  5. We wouldn’t call it Twitter…
    Of course, the service wouldn’t be called Twitter. In keeping with Amazon’s other services it would probably have a name like “Amazon Simple Messaging Service”, or SMS for short. Though I suppose that acronym is already taken!

I am a huge Twitter fan, and I really do hope that Ev, Biz, Jack, and the rest of the team get things working and fixed. With every passing hour of downtime though, I lose a little bit of faith. I wonder if Twitter would be better off in someone else’s hands.

Of course, if Twitter really had been built by AWS, there would be far more differences than just the items in my list above. The service may not be recognizable as Twitter!

That doesn’t mean that they couldn’t adopt some of these items as improvements, however. I’d love to see an official Twitter health dashboard, for instance. One can hope.

Maybe Microsoft should buy Amazon instead

The Microsoft-Yahoo deal continues to be the hot topic in the blogosphere right now, with Techmeme still dominated by related discussion. The latest news is that Google has posted an official response to the proposed takeover. In general, discussion has moved from “can you believe what just happened” to “this deal with fail/succeed because…” If you read only two posts on the topic, read this one from Fake Steve Jobs and this one from Henry Blodget.

I really have no idea how this is going to play out. Based on what I’ve read, it seems pretty likely that Microsoft will successfully acquire Yahoo. Many think the deal is as good as done. Far less certain, however, is whether they can make the acquisition a success. It could go either way.

I think what’s clear is that this is a strategy change for Microsoft. A bold recognition that they need to succeed on the web. They trail Google in both search and advertising, and it makes a certain amount of sense that combining with Yahoo will create a stronger competitor.

Microsoft is a platform company. Their cash cow is Windows, the most widely used technology platform in history. They are good at platforms. If the strategy shift is to the web, shouldn’t it be slanted towards a great platform?

amazonawsSuch as Amazon’s Web Services platform. On Wednesday Amazon announced their fourth quarter earnings, and shared this tidbit about Amazon Web Services (AWS):

Adoption of Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3) continues to grow. As an indicator of adoption, bandwidth utilized by these services in fourth quarter 2007 was even greater than bandwidth utilized in the same period by all of Amazon.com’s global websites combined.

ReadWriteWeb has a good discussion of what this means.

Obviously Microsoft isn’t a retailer, and owning Amazon.com itself probably isn’t in the company’s best interests. It could acquire the company for AWS and spin off the rest, however. I suppose Microsoft could just try to duplicate what Amazon has already accomplished with AWS, but why bother? Grab the early market leader and take it to the next level.

I think AWS is an indication of what the platform of the future will look like. Microsoft would be wise to pay attention.

More on the Amazon Kindle

Post ImageNow that Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader has actually launched, there is a lot more information available out on the web. And after reading a bunch of it, I am less excited than I was yesterday. Here are a few links that may be of interest if you’re curious about the Kindle:

I dunno. Crippled wireless, lousy document support, DRM, a $400 price tag, and it’s still ugly. The Kindle sounds less and less impressive with each article I read.

Here’s to hoping that version 2 is better!

The Amazon Kindle

Post ImageAmazon.com is venturing into the hardware industry on Monday with the launch of their new ebook reading device, Kindle. The image I have included to the right comes from a September 2006 post at Endgadget, so I have no idea if that is just a prototype or if it is a reasonable representation of the shipping product. I hope just a prototype, because it’s kind of ugly. The device is 4.9 inches by 7.5 inches by 0.7 inches and weighs 10.2 ounces (so slightly larger than the iPod classic, and double the weight).

Newsweek has a seven page article up all about the device, and after reading it, I’m pretty excited (though still distraught over the look…beige is so pre-Internet). I encourage you to go read it for yourself, but here’s the gist of the article:

  • The Amazon Kindle will sell for $399 USD.
  • It has no back-light, and utilizes E Ink technology that mimics the readability of ink on paper.
  • Battery will last 30 hours and will fully charge in just 2.
  • Wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi and EVDO.
  • Does not require a computer. You can buy the books on the device with one-touch and start reading.
  • There will be 88,000 books available at launch, for $9.99 each.
  • You can subscribe to newspapers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal.
  • You get a private Kindle email address. Send a PDF to it, and the document is automatically added to your library, ready to read on the Kindle.

The Newsweek article then goes into the history of ebooks, and provides a pretty good analysis of how the Kindle could transform both reading and writing.

Don’t you wish you had one of these? Or maybe one of the second generation Kindles, with color screens, a sleeker design, and a lower price? I do. I know ebooks have been talked about for years, but the Kindle could be the device that finally opens the floodgates. The killer feature, as far as I am concerned, is the inclusion of wireless connectivity. It’s a big, big deal.

You don’t always have access to your computer, and even if you do, connecting a device to it is an annoying step that needs to go away forever. With a wireless connection, the Kindle can do everything on its own, without the need for a computer. Score one for the inclusion of wireless.

As the Newsweek article states, the Kindle is "the first ‘always-on book". That could transform the way books are published entirely! I read a lot of non-fiction, and I like to buy the books when they are brand new. For instance, I bought Freakonomics as soon as I heard about it. The problem is that these books almost always have a second "revised and expanded" edition! There’s no way I’m going to buy the book again. With the Kindle however, I could subscribe to the book. The author could update the book on the fly, and I’d see the changes instantly, wherever I am. How cool is that?!

Another key advantage to the Kindle’s wireless feature is the ability to venture out onto the web. You can look up something on Wikipedia for instance, and then capture passages to your Kindle library "with an electronic version of a highlight pen." Combined with the fact that you can send documents to the Kindle, it could become your hub for all kinds of reading. Books, newspapers, blogs, documents, and web pages.

There will always be critics and individuals who say nay to the idea of ebooks, but it’s a losing battle for them. From the Newsweek article:

"I’ve actually asked myself, ‘Why do I love these physical objects?’ " says [Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos]. " ‘Why do I love the smell of glue and ink?’ The answer is that I associate that smell with all those worlds I have been transported to. What we love is the words and ideas."

Microsoft’s Bill Hill has a riff where he runs through the energy-wasting, resource-draining process of how we make books now. We chop down trees, transport them to plants, mash them into pulp, move the pulp to another factory to press into sheets, ship the sheets to a plant to put dirty marks on them, then cut the sheets and bind them and ship the thing around the world. "Do you really believe that we’ll be doing that in 50 years?" he asks.

Amazon’s Kindle attempts to solve the first problem – the affinity for the physical book – by being a device that disappears as you read. The print is clear and crisp, the device mimics the size of a paperback, and there isn’t much to distract you from reading (I guess that’s one advantage to the less than sleek look). It solves the second problem – environmental waste and inefficiencies – by getting rid of the need for paper altogether.

I think the Kindle could be good. Read the Newsweek article, and also this post by the author, Steven Levy. In it, he addresses the "ugly" reaction that bloggers like me have had. There’s even more on the device at Techmeme. Maybe in a few years you’ll be reading this on the Kindle!

Oh, and don’t let the $399 price tag get in the way of realizing how much potential the Kindle has. After all, when the iPod launched in 2001, it was priced at $399 too.

Read: Newsweek

Amazon now offers an SLA for S3

Post ImageAmazon announced on Monday the launch of an SLA, or Service Level Agreement, for the S3 web service. The lack of an SLA has always been cited as a “shortcoming” of S3, but I don’t know exactly how many customers have requested it. Enough for them to offer it I guess:

Basically, we commit to 99.9% uptime, measured on a monthly basis. If an S3 call fails (by returning a ServiceUnavailable or InternalError result) this counts against the uptime. If the resulting uptime is less than 99%, you can apply for a service credit of 25% of your total S3 charges for the month. If the uptime is 99% but less than 99.9%, you can apply for a service credit of 10% of your S3 charges.

The SLA is effective as of October 1st, 2007. Jeff makes it sound like they had planned to have an SLA for a long time, but I’m not so sure that’s the case. Doesn’t matter now, they have one!

I think SmugMug’s Don MacAskill makes a good point:

Everything fails sometimes.

The SLA payment is rarely comparable to the pain and suffering your customers had to deal with.

Very true. From my perspective, the SLA isn’t a big deal. I hope it helps Amazon land some more customers though!

Read: Amazon

New Pricing for Amazon S3

Post ImageLate last night Amazon sent an email to S3 customers announcing an upcoming pricing change. Storage costs will remain the same, but the price for bandwidth is going to change:

Current bandwidth price (through May 31, 2007)
$0.20 / GB – uploaded
$0.20 / GB – downloaded

New bandwidth price (effective June 1, 2007)
$0.10 per GB – all data uploaded

$0.18 per GB – first 10 TB / month data downloaded
$0.16 per GB – next 40 TB / month data downloaded
$0.13 per GB – data downloaded / month over 50 TB

$0.01 per 1,000 PUT or LIST requests
$0.01 per 10,000 GET and all other requests

They claim that if the pricing had been applied to usage for March 2007, about 75% of customers would have seen their bill decrease. In some cases however, the price change makes things significantly more expensive, as this thread points out:

Uploading 1GB of 4K files will cost $2.72 instead of $0.20

We haven’t yet figured out how Podcast Spot will be affected, but I suspect we’ll see a slight decrease. I’m also interested to hear from Don MacAskill on SmugMug.

UPDATE: Don talks about the new pricing model here and says they’ll save money.

Read: S3 Forums