Research firm Gartner believes that most connected consumer devices will incorporate personal cloud services by the end of next year. Guy Daniels reports.
According to technology research firm Gartner, by the end of 2013, personal cloud services for accessing content will be integrated into 90 per cent of all connected consumer devices.
Speaking at a briefing for technology industry executives in Singapore today, Andrew Johnson, Managing VP at Gartner, told attendees that the emergence of personal clouds reflects the “4S experience” – in other words, the desire of consumers to seamlessly store, synch, stream, and share their content, regardless of device or platform:
“The shift to the personal cloud will accelerate rapidly in 2012 as consumers learn how to use new services on their devices. As cloud services become part of people’s lives, device vendors and platform providers must integrate cloud services in order to win customers in 2012 or risk being displaces by those that offer these services. Brands must stretch across multiple devices, platforms and services.”
The personal cloud is already with us, of course, and has been for some time – it’s just not hit the mass market yet. Services such as Microsoft’s SkyDrive, Apple's iCloud and Google Apps are already available and growing in popularity. Gartner’s idea of a personal cloud relies on the seamless ability to control and use your media content – such as partially watching a TV show on your smartphone, then later resuming where you left off on your tablet. Devices can also include connected TVs, computers or games consoles.
Johnson adds that this has all come about thanks to earlier implementations of cloud for file transfer and backup, such as that offered by Dropbox:
“Online backup and synchronization companies have been offering personal cloud for years.
However, a big change has occurred during the past couple of years, with the growing adoption of mobile and portable devices that have limited internal storage and rely heavily on cloud services. What distinguishes the personal cloud from what came before is its ability to store, synchronize, stream and share as needed allowing consumers greater flexibility in choosing devices and platforms.”
Gartner estimates that consumers will spend around $2.2 trillion on digital technology products and services in 2012, equivalent to about 10 per cent of the average disposable household income. It also estimates that by 2015, consumers will spend around $2.8 trillion worldwide on connected devices, the services that run them and content that is transferred through them.
But this shift to using the cloud for media storage and access will take some time, and there will be a lengthy overlap period whilst we still use and rely on personal storage. Whether local storage will ever disappear is a moot point, but what is looking certain is that we will increasingly come to rely to some degree on the personal cloud. Gartner’s Johnson predicts that although the personal cloud will become widely adopted by 2015, in 2014 less than 10 per cent of consumers will use the cloud as their main storage.
Gartner’s Andrew Johnson says that it is important for technology vendors to take the time to educate consumers about the benefits of cloud services, rather than rush to make quick return, and that they must redefine their view of markets:
“Providers of consumer devices, services and content must anticipate the risk of sweeping changes to their business models,” said Mr. Johnson. “The personal cloud will force technology providers not only to rethink how they approach markets, but also, more importantly, how they define markets. ‘Emerging’ and ‘mature’ markets are no longer useful market segmentation.”
But vendors must ensure that they protect consumer data and provide a reliable service, otherwise they will face a backlash against the cloud and consumers’ dependence on local storage will continue for several more years.
They also need to be open and interoperable. Unfortunately, that’s not the case so far, with each major vendor tying their cloud offerings to their own products, or at least providing a superior experience with their own products. This is fine whilst consumers begin to explore the possibilities of the personal cloud, but will have to change if the cloud model is to globally replace the tried and tested practice of local storage.
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