Deezer co-founder Jonathan Benassaya helped bring your music to the cloud, and now he's hoping to do the same with your photos and videos. Today he is launching Stream Nation, an awkwardly named but seemingly powerful cloud storage platform for hosting all the photos and videos you've taken on your phone, SLR, and even your video camera — if you still have one. The service handles just about any file type you can throw at it, stores it all in the cloud, and then transcodes and streams it to any device you're using. It's part Photo Stream, part Dropbox.
Stream Nation is part Photo Stream, part Dropbox
After spending a year testing every service from Dropbox to Everpix to Google Drive, Benassaya realized his streaming experience, cultivated during years developing Deezer, could provide the foundation for a new company. "With Deezer we sustained more than two million simultaneous user connections, and we built it five years ago," he says. Stream Nation's premise is far from novel, but Benassaya is betting that his past expertise could help it become among the first services to fulfill its promise of being your "media center" in the cloud. Instead of relying on hard drives and backup sites for hosting your videos, he hopes Stream Nation will be used as your own private YouTube.
When you sign up for Stream Nation, you are entitled to 2 GB of free storage, but can upgrade to various tiers like 500 GB for $9.99 per month, which is five times the value Dropbox offers, or unlimited storage for $19.99 per month. You can then use Stream Nation's Mac, Windows, and iOS apps to upload all your photos and videos. These apps monitor folders on your computer and phone, like Dropbox, so whenever you add new files, they too get uploaded. Once some of your stuff is uploaded, Stream Nation's website separates your files into a Video Stream and Photo Stream (galleries of your latests videos and photos), and Collections, which are essentially albums.
From here, Stream Nation works a lot like iPhoto, but on the web. And unlike Dropbox, which limits you to viewing the first 15 minutes of any streamed video, Stream Nation lets you watch entire videos, transcoded for whatever device you're using. Plus, like Netflix, the service has adaptive streaming to compensate for a good or bad internet connection. In our initial tests, the quality of streaming video was good, but not great.
There's nothing to stop you from sharing movies with friends on Stream Nation
Benassaya envisions the service as a personal media cloud, which means you can't share photos and videos publicly. You can only share content with other Stream Nation users, for now, which effectively places the service in a much different category than something like Dropbox. Whereas Dropbox's focus is on storage, Stream Nation places a greater emphasis on letting you access your high-res photos and videos from anywhere. You can even lend videos or photos to a friend (and even save them for offline mode) for up to 24 hours. There's nothing to stop you from backing up your movies using an app like Handbrake and then streaming them to your tablet while sitting on bed, or even to a friend's device if they want to borrow the movie. The policy could potentially spell trouble for Stream Nation, but at launch, lending movies to friends is allowed. As with lending Kindle books, the video or photo you've lent disappears from your library temporarily.
Streaming video to tens of thousands of users on launch day will be no easy task, and Stream Nation won't employ a wait list (like several recent cloud-based companies have elected to do) to help usher in new users. Benassaya says, "If you build a cloud storage company and you don't have a contingency plan in case you're a huge success, then you have a problem."