Throughout 2011 the term “cloud” was heard more and more often as vendors attached it to almost anything technology related.
I predict that in 2012, as the battle heats up for mobile dominance, the term “personal cloud” will rise to prominence. The key aspect of personal cloud is the ability for consumers to access their content wherever they are and on multiple devices.
Many hardware manufacturers have been bundling online backups or data synchronisation services with their equipment for years. Generally these have been under the “freemium” model where you receive a basic version for free but need to pay to add additional services or more storage space.
The most notable in this area has been Apple with the release of iCloud, which lets you backup and access your content on any Apple device. This manufacturer-specific model falls down when the consumer wants to access their content on devices from other vendors.
Apple’s iCloud website even states, “iCloud is seamlessly integrated into your apps, so you can access your content on all your devices.” Perhaps they should change that to say “Apple devices”. Sure it works on a PC with iTunes, but what about the other dominant mobile platform, Google Android?
The challenge we will see in 2012 is that every manufacturer will offer personal cloud solutions with their equipment – however the reality is that most of us will have several pieces of equipment from a variety of manufacturers.
In my household I have a Windows Home Server, a Xbox 360, an iPad and a Windows Phone. Given that I work and live in a Microsoft-preferred world I have designed my home to allow all my devices to work together. Except the iPad – that still lives in an Apple world and doesn’t really play nicely with my Microsoft cloud services or home hardware unless Microsoft or third-party developers release apps to allow limited access between platforms.
I recently switched my wife from her iPhone of two years over to a Windows Phone just so we could interact with our services better.
Conversely a good friend of mine lives in a mainly Apple world. While she uses Windows laptops for work and personal use I recently set her up with an iPad and Apple TV to compliment her iPhone and iTunes library.
Perhaps in 2013 there will be a rationalisation of public cloud providers allowing consumers of different technologies to access the same content regardless of device.
Microsoft has a SkyDrive app for iOS. How long will it be before Apple releases an iCloud app for Windows Phone?
Loryan Strant is a Microsoft Office 365 MVP (Most Valuable Professional). Follow him on Twitter @TheCloudMouth.