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The personal cloud is poised to eclipse the PC as the hub of consumers' digital lives by 2014. The growth in the use of apps and services introduces a new paradigm as to how people store, synchronise, share and stream content, according to market analyst Gartner. personal cloud


“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,”says Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner.


"It encompasses content storage, synchronisation, sharing and streaming, as well as context-based access,” adds Gartenberg. Currently, there is no single company with all-encompassing dominance. The stakes are high as vendors such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google try to claim multiple aspects of the personal cloud ecosystem.


Smaller vendors are also trying 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. “Consumers are confused about the nature of the personal cloud. This will not be helped by vendors continuing to equate personal cloud services with online storage and neglecting their additional features and potential,” says 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.”

Competition in the personal cloud market to grow in the following areas:

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 able to store, synchronise, 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. The 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. 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 by number of apps, but also by the availability of core personal cloud services for business and personal needs. Both content creation and content consumption.

Seamless Synchronisation: Since the personal cloud comprises different service offerings, seamless synchronisation will be essential for success. At the simplest level, this means synchronisation 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 synchronisation, content need not necessarily be replicated — seamlessly matched content, if delivered appropriately, will be perceived as seamlessly synchronised.


However, seamless synchronisation 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.


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