personal cloud will supplant personal computers at the hub of
21st century digital lifestyles by 2014. Rapid growth in Cloud-based and
mobile apps and services is introducing a "new
paradigm for how people store, synchronize, share and stream
content," according to Gartner.
"The personal cloud isn't 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. It encompasses content storage,
synchronization, sharing and streaming, as well as context-based
access," said Michael Gartenberg, research director at
Elaborating further, Gartner says personal clouds will encompass
business, consumer and government services. The stakes for Internet
and IT industry leaders couldn't be higher. Apple, Amazon, Google
and Microsoft are all vying to play central roles in various key
aspects of Cloud ecosystems, while new, smaller market entrants vie
to come up with the innovative technology, products and services
that could lead to Cloud breakthroughs and strive to capture a
slice of the Cloud services market, Gartner notes.
The outlook, and customer understanding of personal Cloud services
remains "cloudy," with innovation and marketing machines moving at
breakneck pace taking place, according to Gartner.
"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 Mr. 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."
Gartner sees competition intensifying in the following
- Mobility and Location: Contextual devices and
platforms are evolving, giving consumers the ability to access
relevant information from the location of their choosing on their
favorite devices. In real time, consumers are now able to store,
synchronize, share and stream in ways not previously imagined.
These abilities, when combined with services that can remember and
restore user states, will have a great impact on consumer personal
cloud services, and that impact will affect how other connected
screens fare in a given ecosystem.
- Platform Independence: Personal cloud
integration is about more than just changing where users store
their content. Gartner analysts said personal cloud services will
grow to augment and eventually displace the PC as the center of the
consumer digital experience. The result will be that the core
purchase driver for consumers will shift from the operating system
to the nature and function of the personal cloud services available
to a platform. Platforms will not 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
- Seamless Synchronization: Since the personal
cloud comprises different service offerings, seamless
synchronization will be essential for success. At the simplest
level, this means synchronization of content stored locally and
mirrored to a given service. This content could be office documents
and music and video collections, but could also extend to other
types. To achieve synchronization, content need not necessarily be
replicated - seamlessly matched content, if delivered
appropriately, will be perceived as seamlessly synchronized. But
seamless synchronization does require 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.
More information is available in Gartner's, "Competitive
Landscape: Consumer Personal Cloud" report.