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CEO strategy: How many cloud places will consumers need?

13 Sep 2014

Recently I took a photo of Copenhagen airport on a beautiful sunny morning, shortly after take-off. I used my phone of course.

When I landed and the device connected again, that photo joined all my others in the Apple iCloud. My music also lives there. My ebooks could live there, but they reside with Amazon.

There is some natural clustering of entertainment and media. I am happy for those things to live with Amazon or Apple. However I have also started generating other kinds of data and that lives elsewhere.

My calorie tracking data lives with some company called MyFitnessPal. My cycling data lives with another app provider. This kind of data is all related to personal health – some people call it ‘quantified self’.

But what if I were an e-cigarette user and that device started connecting? What if my home capsule coffee maker starts connecting? Is that quantified self or some other category? If my car connects and starts saving all my driving journey data, should that join my walking data or is it separate?

In Denmark, all citizens have a government email inbox where they get messages about government services, taxes, social payments, speeding tickets and the like.

But is that the way people will always want it – in one place because it is data from government, rather than in some other thematic space?

It’s not yet clear how many separate cloud or cloud-like places consumers will want to hold their data in, or what the natural theme boundaries will be.

A race is on – many places will bubble up. Over time they will aggregate. Our initial ideas about the likely categories will probably be wrong.

The natural categories and boundaries might vary by country, culture and other segmentation features. Those who make fairly good early bets now, then learn to pivot quickly, will end up controlling the big cloud places consumers trust.

They will have huge market power in decades to come.

By Mark Raskino - Analyst, Gartner

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