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Amazon Prime adds unlimited photo storage

CNET

Amazon is providing unlimited photo storage for its Prime program members, the company announced Tuesday, adding another carrot to lure consumers into its ever-expanding premium service.

This new service, called Prime Photos, is a part of its online cloud storage service, Amazon Cloud Drive, and extends to all Prime accounts. Similar to popular cloud services like Box, Dropbox, One Drive and Google Drive, Amazon's service lets users store digital files -- including music, movies, documents and photos -- that they can access from multiple devices. Users can upload the photos from both iOS and Android devices and on the Web.

Any consumers who sign up for the cloud service, whether they were Prime members or not, already receive 5GB of free storage. The space is equal to 2,000 photos, according to Amazon. Fire devices, which include a line of tablets as well as a smartphone, also benefited from unlimited storage for any photos taken with a Fire device or saved to a Fire device. Now, Prime customers will also receive the unlimited photo storage.

The move bolsters Amazon's offerings for the $99/£79-per-year membership, which also includes two-day shipping on over 20 million items, video streaming and access to its Kindle e-book lending library. The Seattle company is known for its willingness to lose money on products and services in order to attract more customers and lock them into its expansive Prime system. The belief is Prime customers tend to be more active on Amazon once they become members.Amazon Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said during the company's third-quarter earnings call that it's had success growing its Prime subscriptions through Prime Instant Video, with customers signing up to stream the video content and then moving on to buy physical goods from Amazon.com. Amazon invested heavily in its video offerings to make the service desirable, including striking exclusive deals with networks and creating original shows.

Now it seems, Amazon has its eye on another way to get consumers in: cloud storage. The company created buzz when it first offered free, unlimited storage for photos taken on its Fire Phone, which debuted in June. The phone also included a free year of Prime and looped in Amazon's many other content services. The phone -- which was only available through AT&T in the US and O2 in the UK -- was a flop. Amazon ended up with $83 million worth of unsold phones by the end of its third quarter and took a $170 million charge on the business in the period.

Amazon must recognize the benefit could be better realized through all Prime customers, rather than the limited number of Fire device owners. With Amazon just one of many players offering cloud storage, the company is looking to photos as a good way to entice new customers and lock them in.

This article originally appeared on CNET.