Personal Cloud Services Move From Hype To Reality: Survey

Personal cloud services like Apple iCloud have gone beyond hype and into reality, a recent survey revealed.

According to a survey conducted by personal cloud sync solution player Funambol, 75 percent of respondents plan to use some sort of personal cloud service, or a digital locker, to store rich media and digital data. Moreover, 67 percent of users said they'd be willing to pay to use such services, with $5 per month being the most attractive price-point.

User willingness to pay for personal cloud services creates a new revenue stream for cloud providers, as they resell or launch their own cloud media storage offerings.

The report, "Personal Cloud Survey: Hype vs. Reality," asked 232 people in 49 countries about personal cloud services and found that the interest is genuine, but user comfort rests on whether the services are secure, private and support their preferred mobile devices. Another concern is an overabundance of personal clouds, the survey found, as 51 percent said managing multiple personal clouds could become a major issue in the future.

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The survey, however, found that there is still some convincing to do when it comes to personal clouds. Twenty-four percent of respondents said they may use a personal cloud in the future, and 2 percent said they will not.

Meanwhile, 88 percent said they plan to store contacts in the cloud, while 85 percent said they would store files, 80 percent said they'd use cloud calendar services and 69 percent said they'd store photos. Additionally, 81 percent said they will store somewhere between 25 percent and 75 percent of their personal data using cloud services, while 12 percent said they will store all data in the cloud.

And as a key illustration of the consumerization of IT, 72 percent of respondents to the Funambol survey said they would personal cloud services for business and personal use, while 26 percent said they would use it only for personal data.

While 67 percent of users said they would be willing to pay a monthly fee for a personal cloud service, 30 percent said they would buy commercial content for their personal cloud and 51 percent said they might by commercial content.

The survey comes as Apple readies the fall launch of its iCloud service, a personal cloud service that lets users store documents, contacts, calendars, e-mail, media and other content and access that data from up to 10 different devices including iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac or PC. Apple iCloud joins a market with competitive cloud offerings from Amazon and others.

Next: Cloud Computing Creeps Into Popular Culture

And while Funambol found that personal cloud services have moved beyond hype and into reality, the research dovetails on a recent report of from The NPD Group which found that the majority of consumers aren't familiar with the term or concept of "cloud computing," despite using some sort of cloud service. The NPD Group found that only 22 percent of consumers in the U.S. are familiar with the term "cloud computing."

Still, cloud computing has crept into daily life. With a host of television commercials focusing on cloud computing services from myriad vendors, and cloud computing getting mentioned on major television programs.

This week cloud computing was the focus of Stephen Colbert's "The Word" segment on his Comedy Central comedy news show The Colbert Report.

In the segment, titled Head In The Cloud, Colbert joked that cloud services from Apple, Google and Microsoft make it unnecessary to remember any data, now that it can all be stored in the cloud.

"Nation, these days, you know, we live in a 24/7 connected society that's so busy it may soon upgrade to 25/8 …" the host quipped. "Nowadays, I can chat online, listen to a podcast and order groceries all while looking at photos of kitten war criminals."

Colbert joked that he will now keep all of his data and personal information -- including his favorite food -- in the cloud and will no longer waste time and energy remembering those facts.

"There is now a way we can handle all of the data that modern society crams into our sense-holes," he said.

"[W]e stubbornly insist on keeping data in the old skull-drive," he added, pointing to his head. "This is totally unreliable."