Consumer cloud has seen an explosive growth this year. According to insights from IHS iSuppli Mobile and Wireless Communications Service, the number of personal subscriptions for online storage services at the end of June is already 75 percent of the market’s projections for the year. Global consumers using cloud services in the first six months has reached more than 375 million of the 500 million predicted for 2012.
With cloud sync, backup or sharing services like Dropbox and Box in the West and Kleii and Drompyemail in Asia, more and more companies are popping up to service the almost insatiable consumer demand for cloud services. Larger tech companies are also joining the race to capture a piece of the consumer cloud pie. While Dropbox was holding it’s Great Space Race, and getting cleverly out-hacked by students from MIT, companies like Microsoft are dishing out up to 25 gigabytes and more of free cloud storage space to consumers.
IHS estimated that global subscribers for consumer cloud numbered around 150 million for 2011 and puts 2013 targets at around 625 million. From then on, the numbers are expect to double over the following four years, hitting 1.3 billion global subscribers for either free or paid subscriptions by the year 2013.
According to Jagdish Robello, director for consumer and communications at IHS, “The cloud is a game changer in an age of near-ubiquitous mobile broadband, offering benefits to consumers and cloud service providers alike.”
What is driving consumers to the cloud? Personally, I believe it is the flexibility to access your documents and media on any device at any time. From the ease of picking up where you left off from your Kindle book across devices to ensuring that you will still have access to important documents even when your laptop crashes and has to be sent in for repairs. Cloud provides a layer of security for consumers who are working on time sensitive tasks and are always on the go.
Large technology companies that also deal in content distribution are using the cloud as a way to offer consumers the ability to purchase their products. Be it hardware, content or other cloud storage services. Apple’s iTunes was the first major breakthrough in pushing online music to consumers, followed by its iTunes Match. Cloud music platforms like Spotify, Deezer and KKBOX have also followed suit. Microsoft is also planning to release it’s own music streaming service through XBox Music on Windows 8.
According to IHS, the business of providing cloud storage can be expensive, especially for pure-play providers like Dropbox and Box. In the future, it is possible to see partnerships between these pure-play providers and mobile network operators in order to offer consumers with differentiated services.
IHS sees cloud services as a way to create customer loyalty. By creating stickiness towards their services, customers with large amounts of data stored on an operator’s cloud service will be less likely to switch service providers.
Will we see a Dropbox-AT&T partnership in the near future? Or something closer to home like a Kleii-Vinaphone partnership to provide users with a comprehensive mobile solution? With consumer demand growing for cloud services, what would be the next big startup in the cloud space?
Image credits: The Telegraph