Gartner: Personal cloud to eclipse PC as hub of consumers’ digital lives by 2014

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

“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. It encompasses content storage, synchronization, sharing and streaming, as well as context-based access,” said Michael Gartenberg, research director at Gartner.

A personal cloud encompasses business, consumer and government services. At present, there is no single company with all-encompassing dominance. The stakes are high as large vendors such as Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and Google try to claim multiple aspects of the personal cloud ecosystem, and as smaller vendors strive 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 many vendors continuing to equate personal cloud services simply with online storage and neglecting their additional features and potential,” said Mr. 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 now able to store, synchronize, 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, and that 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. Gartner analysts said 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 solely by number of apps, but also by the availability of core personal cloud services for business and personal needs, for both content creation and content consumption.

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

Additional information is available in the Gartner report ” Competitive Landscape: Consumer Personal Cloud.” The report is available on Gartner’s website at

MacDailyNews Take: Currently, iCloud is ahead of the rest based on simplicity, reliability, and ease-of-use (the odd lawsuit notwithstanding), but much work needs to be done. The good news is that Apple CEO Tim Cook clearly recognizes the importance of iCloud to Apple, so we expect to see constant, significant improvements and refinements to iCloud.

Related articles:
WWDC sneak peek: Don’t let iOS 6 blind you to the real action in iCloud – May 19, 2012
Class-action lawsuit accuses Apple of botching MobileMe to iCloud transition – May 18, 2012
Apple’s iCloud is the difference between great and excellent – May 14, 2012
Apple preparing iCloud upgrade, say sources – May 14, 2012 beta site suggests Apple will add Notes, Reminders – May 11, 2012
Apple testing banner notifications on – May 8, 2012
Apple embarks on hiring spree for next-generation iCloud – March 3, 2012
Apple CEO Cook: iCloud more than a mere product; it’s a strategy for the next decade – January 25, 2012


  1. The idea of cloud services is a temporary one and exists primarily has a result if the limited crap services offered by the telecommuncation companies.

    People don’t want their stuff on the cloud. I certainly don’t and I don’t know anyone who does. I don’t want my documents, movies, music, financial records, etc sitting on some unknown servers somewhere between tel aviv and Bangalore. I don’t want my access to my materials suddenly cut off because someone else stored child porn or bomb making instructions or hd copies of game of thrones on the same server. I don’t want to be in court, need a document, and find that I can’t access it for two days because servers are being upgraded.

    What I want, and what most people want, is our stuff on a machine at home, or at the office, and immediately available through the cloud on whatever device is needed. The cloud isn’t a place where content should be, it is a channel through which material should be pushed or pulled as the user desires.

    Download caps, slow upload speeds, telco limitations on services that can be offered from home servers, lack of fixed up addresses, etc all gets in the way of this, however, and produces the need to upload stuff to a server, typically to a cloud account that offers less storage space than a USB thumb drive. Do I really need “the cloud” to have access to less data than i can keep on an ad card the size of a thumbnail?

    1. Your frustration is certainly understood when considering the improvement needed in the communications carrier infrastructure. However, the comm companies have no choice but to greatly enhance their services. The demand outside of cloud computing is so high that competition amongst carriers (especially when considering the businesses that have traveling workers) will force broader, more in-depth, and better performing features to be offered. For this reason, cloud computing stands a great chance of becoming as common as word processor usage. While not everyone will want to use it initially (and most products have had slow adoption rates), adoption by big business and enhanced security features will decrease the need for worry amongst average consumers and small business owners. One important thing to remember is that the cloud doesn’t merely mean offsite storage. I use a cloud device called a Pogoplug which is merely an interface for my personal hard drives. My data is at home (not on their servers) while their servers are used as the link between my mobile device and my hard drives. There’s also the computation concept of the cloud………where your document is uploaded into a cloud version of a software product (word, excel, etc..), processed, and downloaded back to your computer when finished. This is currently seen as a means of reducing the cost of and resources need for software.

  2. For our personal cloud we use Pogoplug. The device sits at home plugged to our router. Connected to our Pogoplug are a 3 TB and 1.5 TB HDDs. Can access and share files from the smartphone or any computer connected to the Internet. This has saved our behinds and money. YMMV

    1. In reality it is media created hype for an industry driven “consumer need”. They want you to want it, they don’t want it to be free. Sure it is convent WHEN IT WORKS. But the privacy and security implications are HUGE.

      SaaS, SaaS, and More SAAS, till the turnip runs dry..

      I was just discussing something similar at work an hour ago. Fondly remembering when you could buy software and own it and expect updates for free. Now everything is forced upgrade, EOL, Subscription, support contract.

      I am tired of paying for software, then paying for you to fix the product you sold me, broken and then charging me a fee on-top of that to even take my calls about said broken software.

      Shakedown is the term that comes to mind.

    2. Damn, that other message wasn’t supposed to be nested under your comment.

      I do have two questions for you:

      1. Does it use DynDNS?
      2. Subscription based?

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