Thanks to the rapid growth in the use of apps and services, the personal cloud will eclipse the personal computer (PC) as the hub of consumers' digital lives by 2014, introducing a new concept on how people store, synchronize, share and stream content, said a latest Gartner report.
According to Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner, the personal cloud is not a single offering, but a reflection of consumers' expectation that their content will flow seamlessly as the result of a combination of services that overlap the consumer, business and government domains.
Personal cloud encompasses content storage, synchronization, sharing and streaming, as well as context-based access. It also includes business, consumer and government services.
The report said that while there's no single company with all-encompassing dominance at present, the stakes are high as large vendors such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google try to claim multiple aspects of the personal cloud ecosystem.
On the other hand, smaller vendors struggle to capture parts of the consumer experience with more vertically oriented and dedicated offerings, such as digital storage and streaming services accessible across particular platforms and devices.
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Consumers are confused about the nature of the personal cloud. This will not be helped by many vendors continuing to equate personal cloud services simply with online storage and neglecting their additional features and potential, said Gartenberg.
Consumers will define their own sets of personal cloud services with regard to communication, collaboration and media consumption, despite vendors trying to control the digital ecosystem, he added.
The report highlighted three areas where competition in the personal cloud market is expected to grow:
Mobility And Location: Because of constant development of contextual devices and platforms, consumers now have the ability to access relevant information from the location of their choice on their favorite devices. They can now store, synchronize, share and stream in ways not previously imagined.
According to the report, these abilities, when combined with services that can remember and restore user states, will have a great impact on consumer personal cloud services.
Platform Independence: The Gartner report said that personal cloud services will expand and eventually displace the PC as the center of the consumer digital experience. As a result of which, consumers will prefer the nature and function of the personal cloud services available to a platform to the operating system as the core purchase driver.
In addition, platforms won't be judged solely by number of apps, but also by the availability of core personal cloud services for business and personal needs, for both content creation and content consumption.
Seamless Synchronization: Given that personal cloud includes various service offerings, seamless synchronization will be vital for success. Seamless synchronization means organizing and managing content stored locally and mirrored to a given service. The content could range from office documents, music to videos. It could also extend to other types.
In order to achieve synchronization, the content doesn't necessarily need to be reproduced. If seamlessly matched content is delivered appropriately, it will be perceived as seamlessly synchronized.
However, seamless synchronization does need consideration of consumer identity, social graphs, persistent capture of usage states (and the ability for users to opt in or out of any or all of these) from service to service, the report added.