According to a research from IHS, there was a higher than expected consumer migration to the use of cloud storage in the first half of 2012. The number of personal subscriptions to online storage services at the end of June had already reached 75% of the market’s projected total for the year.
The data comes from the IHS iSuppli Mobile & Wireless Communications Service, which estimated the total number of consumers using free or paid cloud services after the first six months at more than 375 million, about three-quarters of the estimated total of 500 million by year-end. Best estimates put global subscribers at the end of 2011 at approximately 150 million.
Use is expected to continue to rise in the years ahead, reaching an estimated 625 million next year, and then doubling over the course of four years to reach 1.3 billion by 2017.
Jagdish Rebello, Ph.D., director for consumer and communications at IHS said that “For consumers, cloud services are intended to manage and store user-generated data or purchased content, such as music, ebooks, pictures or videos. The content can then be seamlessly accessed and synced across devices like smartphones, media tablets and PCs. Meanwhile, technology companies are looking at the cloud as a way to generate revenue.”
It’s a competitive market, though, with technology companies using their cloud offerings to sell hardware and other services, forcing ‘pure-play’ storage providers to offer free basic services, charging for higher levels. It can be costly to provide services, though, and IHS believes that independent providers will find it difficult to remain financially viable, giving mobile network operators an opportunity to partner with the pure-play providers and to offer differentiated services.
Review: The number of consumers moving to cloud storage shows the challenges we face in Green IT.
For corporate cloud use you can argue that business has to continue to function and is expected to grow. Moving IT to the cloud is simply replacing local computers with more centralised data centre facilities. With economies of scale, choice of locations and the cost implications, the cloud should be more energy efficient, and hence not necessarily bad.
But when it comes to consumer use, it’s more difficult to make the same argument. For a start, the amount of data being stored is expanding rapidly, fuelled by internet growth and the use of music and video content. The need for additional storage is simply for consumer convenience. Add to that the fact that the cloud makes it possible to share content between multiple devices - PCs, tablets and smartphones. So, if anything, the use of online storage by consumers is making it easier to use more electronic equipment, use more energy and throw away more e-waste.
There’s no easy solution to that one.