Why Use Funambol to manage your digital life instead of other clouds?

Hal Steger : Thinking Out Cloud
Hal Steger
Vice President of Worldwide Marketing at Funambol. 20+ years of marketing & product management experience at high-growth, innovative global software companies.
| This blog is about personal cloud solutions, technology, trends and market developments. Its scope is to comment on and discuss several aspects of personal clouds.

Why Use Funambol to manage your digital life instead of other clouds?

Consider the usual consumer cloud alternatives:

  • Apple iCloud
  • Google with Drive, Photos, Gmail, etc.
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Dropbox

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?

iCloud is built into iPhones and iPads, and is integrated with Apple services. It provides capabilities such as mobile backup, photo and video streaming, iCloud Drive for files, document editing, iTunes support and more. Many Apple users love their devices, so why would an Apple user consider using OMH instead of iCloud for their digital life?

OMH provides two important advantages versus iCloud. First, it Is simpler and easier-to-use. OMH is one app for the things that mobile consumers care most about: photos, videos, music, files, contacts and calendar. By comparison, iCloud is a kitchen 'sync' cloud that provides many diverse capabilities and is confusing for many people. In a recent article, tech maven Walt Mossberg said that iCloud epitomized Apple’s software woes. In speaking with many iCloud users, they say that they know they have it but that they are really not sure what it does or how it works.

OMH’s second advantage is that it runs natively on multiple platforms. If you want the flexibility to use non-Apple devices now or in the future, such as an Android phone or Windows tablet, OMH is neutral versus any company’s devices and ecosystem.

OMH provides other advantages versus iCloud as well. It ‘plays nicely’ with external services such as Dropbox, Google and Facebook. OMH integrates with an operator’s billing system and a user’s cloud content is managed by their carrier, not Apple. If someone wants the convenience of the cloud without being locked too deeply into Apple, OMH is a better option.

Google. Why use multiple apps and trust a company that mines your data for profit?

Google offers several free cloud services including Gmail, Drive and Photos with nice features. Does it make sense for mobile consumers to trust Google as the repository for their entire digital life? There are valid reasons why not.

Many people are wary of trusting Google who mines personal data for ads. Although Google’s motto is ‘do no evil’, there is the question of how far they go to make money which makes people nervous. They have stepped over the line in the past, and there will be pressure to do so again. The mentality at Google may be, we are providing free cloud services, we are doing this to make money, if people don’t like how we do it, they should use something else.

There is also the matter of accessing Google content on multiple devices. Google often uses a browser or web app approach, as this is easier for supporting more devices, but it can sacrifice usability. Their web apps work in a pinch but native solutions are generally easier-to-use.

Google apps are typically geared more toward advanced users and are not known as novice-friendly, making them difficult to discover and understand for casual users. They frequently require users to enter a mobile phone number or credit card for validation, which for many people, especially those outside the U.S., is not just an annoyance but a non-starter.

OMH is simpler as it is a single app for the things mobile consumers care most about. It is integrated with the operator's billing system for easy access, and a user’s content resides in their carrier’s cloud which is not mined for ads. OMH uses native apps for better usability. All things being equal, these are important considerations for using OMH instead of Google.

Microsoft OneDrive. Who knows what will happen with this cloud?

OneDrive stores user rich media and files in one place. Yet, there are good reasons that should give users pause when considering OneDrive as the repository for their digital content.

Microsoft is a repeat failure in mobile. Its smartphone and tablet market shares are tiny. When it comes to personal clouds, whose main use is on mobiles, OneDrive is an enigma. There is no guarantee that OneDrive will work well on future mobile devices while Microsoft reinvents its mobile strategy again. One example of how this impacts users is that Microsoft backtracked on unlimited cloud storage for paying users and reduced its free storage. They are blinking in how they compete in the consumer cloud market which makes ‘one’ wonder about the staying power of ‘OneDrive’.

OneDrive’s strength is a cloud drive for Office files, not a repository for a digital life. For example, it is not as open to third party services and content from Google, Facebook and Dropbox. In contrast, OMH runs on all popular mobile devices and is not tied to any one ecosystem. For users who live or work in a group of people that use multiple brands of devices (practically everyone), OMH is better as its content can come from many sources and it can be easily accessed by users of any devices.

Dropbox. Why store your digital life in a cloud drive?

Dropbox has 400M+ users. Yet, a recent New York Times article cast a pall on Dropbox by saying it is neither the runaway success that was predicted or a zombie company. Dropbox is the quintessential cloud drive. Yet, it was never intended as a repository for a digital life. The metaphor of Dropbox is files and folders, which is ok for PCs but not mobile devices. While Dropbox supports mobile and PC content, its file and folder metaphor is at its core, ok for PC users but not great for most mobile consumers.

There is also growing evidence that Dropbox is focusing now more on businesses as they see this as their future. Dropbox may be slower to enhance their consumer cloud to keep pace with other services.

OMH started by understanding that mobile consumers care most about rich media and PIM data, with files being an occasional need. OMH supports files but does a much better job of satisfying mobile users by auto-organizing content into natural types (photos, videos, files, music) and timelines that can be augmented with tags, albums, etc. OMH works with third party content and is integrated with a carrier’s billing. It has carrier oversight to manage content which can be reassuring for people uncomfortable trusting their digital life to a U.S. company. It’s one thing to post on Facebook but another to wonder if one’s lifetime memories are safe. In short, Dropbox is best for cloud files, OMH for mobile consumers.

In sum, there are good reasons to use OMH as the repository for one’s digital life. We hope that the information presented is helpful for people considering which consumer cloud is best for them. If you would like to try OMH, you can sign up for a free demo account at https://onemediahub.com.

Note that OMH is only offered by mobile operators. A valid question is if it makes sense to trust one’s digital life with a carrier, especially as people sometimes change carriers and may not value them highly. Operators are neither inherently better or worse than tech companies for entrusting one’s digital life, with three exceptions: 1) if you decide to leave any cloud, it should be hassle-free to move your digital content; 2) mobile operators’ core business is wireless service; they mainly offer a cloud to satisfy users, not sell devices, ads, software or storage; and 3) operators reside in the countries they serve. They must comply with local privacy policies and attitudes which should appeal to people in those countries. For these reasons, it is quite reasonable to trust one’s digital life with an operator's cloud.