51 percent of Americans believe stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing

While “the cloud” may be the tech buzzword of the year, many Americans remain foggy about what the cloud really is and how it works. A new national survey by Wakefield Research, commissioned by Citrix, showed that most respondents believe the cloud is related to weather, while some referred to pillows, drugs and toilet paper. Those in the know claim working from home in their “birthday suit” is the cloud’s greatest advantage. The good news is that even those that don’t know exactly what the cloud is recognize its economic benefits and think the cloud is a catalyst for small business growth.

The survey of more than 1,000 American adults was conducted in August 2012 by Wakefield Research and shows that while the cloud is widely used, it is still misunderstood. For example, 51 percent of respondents, including a majority of Millennials, believe stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing. Nearly one third see the cloud as a thing of the future, yet 97 percent are actually using cloud services today via online shopping, banking, social networking and file sharing. Despite this confusion, three in five (59 percent) believe the “workplace of the future” will exist entirely in the cloud, which indicates people feel it’s time to figure out the cloud or risk being left behind in their professional lives.

These survey responses show there is a significant disconnect between what Americans know, what they pretend to know, and what they actually do when it comes to cloud computing. Among the key findings:

• People feign knowledge about the cloud: One in five Americans (22 percent) admit that they’ve pretended to know what the cloud is or how it works. Some of the false claims take place during work hours, with one third of these respondents faking an understanding of the cloud in the office and another 14 percent doing so during a job interview. Interestingly, an additional 17 percent have pretended to know what the cloud was during a first date. Younger Americans are most likely to pretend to know what the cloud is and how it works (36 percent ages 18-29, 18% ages 30 and older), as are Americans in the West (28 percent West, 22 percent U.S.)

• You’re not alone: While many admit they don’t understand the cloud, 56 percent of respondents say they think other people refer to cloud computing in conversation when they really don’t know what they are talking about.

• What is it, anyway? When asked what “the cloud” is, a majority responded it’s either an actual cloud (specifically a “fluffy white thing”), the sky or something related to the weather (29 percent). Only 16 percent said they think of a computer network to store, access and share data from Internet-connected devices. Some of the other verbatim responses include:Toilet paper, pillow, smoke, outerspace, cyberspace, mysterious network, unreliable, security, sadness, relaxed, overused, oh goody a hacker’s dream, storage, movies, money, memory, back-up, joy, innovation, drugs, heaven and a place to meet.

• Many use it, few understand it: A majority of Americans (54 percent) claim to never use cloud computing. However, 95 percent of this group actually does use the cloud. Specifically, 65 percent bank online, 63 percent shop online, 58 percent use social networking sites such as Facebook or Twitter, 45 percent have played online games, 29 percent store photos online, 22 percent store music or videos online, and 19 percent use online file-sharing. All of these services are cloud based. Even when people don’t think they’re using the cloud, they really are.

• Can the cloud save the economy? Even though many Americans don’t know exactly what the cloud does, they see its silver lining. Most Americans (68 percent) recognize the economic benefits after learning more about the cloud. The most recognized benefits are that the cloud helps consumers by lowering costs (35 percent), spurs small business growth (32 percent) and boosts customer engagement for businesses (35 percent). Millennials are most likely to believe that the cloud generates jobs (26 percent Millennials, 19 percent Boomers).

• Softer advantages, like working from home in the buff: People offered additional, unexpected benefits of the cloud, including the ability to access work information from home in their “birthday suit” (40 percent); tanning on the beach and accessing computer files at the same time (33 percent); keeping embarrassing videos off of their personal hard drive (25 percent); and sharing information with people they’d rather not interact with in person (35 percent).

• Concerns include cost, security, privacy: Despite these advantages, Americans still have reasons why they limit their use of cloud computing or avoid it entirely. Among those who hardly ever or never use the cloud, the top three deterrents are cost (34 percent), security concerns (32 percent) and privacy concerns (31 percent).

“This survey clearly shows that the cloud phenomenon is taking root in our mainstream culture, yet there is still a wide gap between the perceptions and realities of cloud computing,” said Kim DeCarlis, vice president of corporate marketing at Citrix, in a statement. “While significant market changes like this take time, the transition from the PC era to the cloud era is happening at a remarkable pace. The most important takeaway from this survey is that the cloud is viewed favorably by the majority of Americans, and when people learn more about the cloud they understand it can vastly improve the balance between their work and personal lives.”

Methodological Notes:
The Citrix Cloud Survey was conducted by Wakefield Research (www.wakefieldresearch.com) among 1,006 nationally representative American adults ages 18 and older, between Aug. 2-7, 2012, using an email invitation and an online survey. Quotas have been set to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the U.S. adult population 18 and older.

Results of any sample are subject to sampling variation. The magnitude of the variation is measurable and is affected by the number of interviews and the level of the percentages expressing the results. For the interviews conducted in this particular study, the chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.1 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample.
Complete survey results and graphics are available.

Source: Citrix Systems, Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: Yikes.

Now we know what we suspected, the following commercial flies over so many heads because most people are morbidly vapid twits who know close to nothing beyond when the next episode of The Fscking Kardasians airs.

The need is so great, and growing by leaps and bounds (thanks, NEA), that we’re seriously thinking of going into the drool cup biz.

We’d love to be able to – just once, and only because we’ve been blessed with natural curiosity (obviously a relatively rare thing) – experience this commercial from the point of view of someone who thinks stormy weather can interfere with cloud computing.

What do you think the ignorati are seeing or thinking they’re seeing when they watch this spot, if anything?


  1. That’s the irony of this….over the past two years the two major AWS outages have been because of storms on the east coast. I’d actually be the first to say that storms can interfere with cloud computing, but obviously (and maybe not so obvious to those interviewed), the connection with the word “cloud” is incidental. The premise of the question just seems skewed to me..they’d probably have more consistent results with “off-site servers.”.

  2. I did think Apple was being too techy calling it iCloud. Regardless of what you thought of MobileMe, it did convey what the service was about.

    And I liked Buzz better as a name than Google .

  3. Nice play on words, but before we make too much fun, I’m pretty sure a storm can knock down my cable lines and kill my internet connection… That would disrupt “the cloud”

  4. Since most access “cloud” wirelessly and often through mobile networks, the weather very much DOES effect our access to it. That the cloud servers are connected to the Internet through via fiber optics while housed in bunkers with redundant servers and backup power supplies will be small comfort to someone with no cell signal on their iOS device when they really need a critical document for a business meeting.

  5. I like the idea behind iCloud but I cannot get the syncing between the MBAir’s address book and iPhone’s address book to work right. When connected through iCloud, new updates added to addresses, phone numbers, or email addresses does not appear in the normal place but down at the bottom under “link”. I do NOT like that. The only way for the iPhone and MBAir to sync correctly is to turn iCloud OFF.

    The Address Book (contacts) are my number one priority. I don’t need iCloud telling me how I want it.

    1. Either sync through iTunes or iCloud, but not both as this will result in duplicate entries.

      Ensure that the account used to create an iCloud account corresponds to your Apple ID. Ensure that the account is used consistently across all devices.

      New entries on contacts should sync. If they don’t, click the arrow button on your iPhone address book to force sync. On the MBA, ensure that the contacts app is running either in the background or brought to the front.

      Lastly, wait a while for complete sync to occur. iCloud doesn’t discriminate between syncing mail, calendar, address book, reminders, Photostream or any app you have set up to sync. So while cycling through the sync process, you need to allow time for it to complete.

  6. most respondents believe the cloud is related to weather, while some referred to pillows, drugs and toilet paper.

    That makes ‘The Cloud’ a marketing slogan FAIL. Nothing new in our era of TardMarketing. Of course TechTards think the slogan is literal. And TechTardiness are rampant.

    NO! No stormy weather effect on cloud computing kids! Well, unless you mean a SOLAR STORM! Giant sun spots have been known to mess with electromagnetic methods of communication.

    Where did I put my EMP gun?

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