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As someone who spends a lot of time with personal clouds, an article in today's New York Times, "Why the World Is Drawing Battle Lines Against American Tech Giants", made me think about the impact on them. The author, Farhad Manjoo, listed several examples of how the "big 5" (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft), who increasingly dominate daily life globally, embody principles in their products that can conflict with the beliefs, laws and politics in many countries. Governments, businesses and people in those countries often feel they have little-to-no recourse, resulting in a backlash against the big 5.
This is a complex situation that will continue a long time.
Who's winning the personal cloud war, over-the-top (OTT) services such as iCloud, Dropbox and Google Drive, or operator clouds?
It is normal to assume it's OTTs, as the sheer volume of news about them dwarfs operator clouds. On a personal level, when's the last time you heard someone say, "I was using the XYZ [operator] cloud"?
Are OTT clouds really dominating personal clouds?
Two large mobile operators recently shared research that showed that their personal clouds significantly reduced churn. This post delves into the dynamics of how operator clouds do this.
Let's start with a description of an operator cloud so we are on the same proverbial page. An operator cloud stores important content from a user's phone - their contacts, photos, videos, music, files and calendar - in the user's personal cloud account.
Two articles related to cloud security caught my attention the past few days.
The first, "Here's How Much People Trust Facebook", showed poll results of 1,000 people regarding their trust in Facebook. 28% said not at all, 34% said not very much, 32% said somewhat and 3% said a lot. The article had a chart about information that adults consider to be the most sensitive and said that much of the content on Facebook lines up with this, including phone conversations, text messages and their location.
For research professionals (and blogging the mantra is 'publish or perish'. Adapted for mobile operators, new research indicates that the mantra should be 'provide a personal cloud or perish'. It turns out that personal clouds are truly the best thing to happen to mobile operators for customer retention since 'fill-in-the-blank' (sliced bread, ice cubes or your favorite invention cliche).
In the past month, two major mobile operators have shared primary research with my company that shows that their personal cloud has reduced their churn much more than expected.
Several news items in the past few days could impact personal clouds profoundly - without further ado:
1) The EU charged Google with using Android's market dominance to stifle competition in a way that hurts consumers. The charges stemmed from Google offering favorable financial terms to providers that allowed Google's services and apps, such as Search, to dominate Android devices. The charges are reminiscent of the anti-trust action against Microsoft for favoring Internet Explorer (IE) at the expense of other browsers, which resulted in IE becoming decoupled as the de facto browser on Windows and which opened the door for other browsers (ironically, leading to the rapid rise of Google Chrome).
A recent New York Times "Tech Fix" article about the new Samsung Galaxy S7, "Samsung's Smartphones Aren't the Problem (Just Prune the Bad Apps)", said the phone's hardware was excellent but it suffered from weak apps. The article started, "PITY the poor Samsung smartphone.", referring to great hardware and poor apps. The suggestion: replace the offending apps, the number one cause of which was carrier app bloat.
Although the article did not mention cloud apps, they are guilty by association.
Consider the usual consumer cloud alternatives:
All consumer clouds have strengths and weaknesses. This post describes why someone would want to use Funambol OneMediaHub (OMH) as the repository for all of their digital content i.e. their digital life, instead of other clouds.
Apple iCloud. Why use a confusing cloud that mainly supports one brand of devices?
The operator personal cloud imperative has shifted.
The main drivers for operators to have a personal cloud used to be revenue and user retention.
While some operators achieved these, others did not. In simple terms, it was due to a shortfall of users converting from free cloud storage to premium, as there are good free alternatives, coupled with a lack of a compelling reason to upgrade.
It should barely be a surprise that many consumers expect personal clouds to be free. They can often get enough free storage and there is little reason to upgrade simply for more. Many consumers view personal clouds like a free usb drive in the sky, it’s there when they need to store or get a file. If they run out of space, they can delete something in their sky drive or switch to another service.