View From The Top - Personal Clouds Are Changing

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.

View From The Top - Personal Clouds Are Changing

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). For personal clouds, it makes one wonder about the  impact on Google Drive, Photos, Gmail, contacts and calendar. If the EU gets their way, this could diminish the appeal of Google cloud services.

2) China blocked two Apple services, for e-books and iTunes movies. Who knows if this is temporary or a larger salvo aimed at large tech companies whose services threaten comparable Chinese services. This makes one wonder about large personal clouds in China, such as iCloud, Google or Microsoft - are these next - as they access content that the Chinese government views as questionable or threatening to business. If you never go to China, this might not impact you, but what happens in China does not stay in China - it could occur elsewhere or start a tech trade war with unknown consequences. This might give one pause about making one of these services the repository of their important digital content e.g. if it can suddenly be inaccessible.

3) A prominent Silicon Valley VC wrote about the bubble bursting for unicorns, leading to a new term, 'unicorpse'. The reader's digest is these companies, a few of which are high flying cloud firms, must focus on making money instead of spending it. Much has been written about Dropbox's diminished valuation but it's one thing to offer a free service, it's another to offer them profitably. This supports the view that many providers use personal clouds as a loss leader for other aims, while only a few have cracked the code on offering clouds sustainably. The economic adage of 'there's no such thing as a free lunch' may be coming home to roost for personal clouds. Just as it was reported that Uber passengers are now expected to tip drivers, expect some form of similar 'tax' on free personal clouds in the future.

4)  The EU is working through its 'herding cats' process to approve the recently announced Privacy Shield successor to Safe Harbor. While this is as interesting as watching paint dry for many people, it has potentially large ramifications for personal clouds. In its broadest form, it is a fundamental trade-off between privacy and security, and it is unclear how this will be resolved. It is quite possible that Europe will require stringent privacy measures that involve significant changes in how cloud service providers operate. One example is the 'right to be forgotten' but that is just the tip of the iceberg. One thing is clear - just as there is a constant tug-of-war between centralized and local governments, the same will hold true in this area. Local cloud providers that have the ability to adjust to their local privacy laws will have an advantage vs. a one-size-fits-the-entire world approach  - expect more changes in this area.