Saturday, March 05, 2011

No trust, no cloud

A few weeks back, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, I was invited to give a talk about "Consumers in the Cloud". It is a hot topic: consumers are putting more and more personal information on the cloud, from their friends (address book) to pictures, videos, files and much more.

My talk focused on one major topic: trust.

Trust is the key when it comes to putting your data in the cloud. There are things you want to share with everyone, some you want to share with few, and few you do not want to share with anyone (probably, not even your mom). My focus was on the latter.

Why would you put your persona data in the cloud, anyway, if you do not want anyone else to see?

First, because you are afraid to lose it. Because your data is important. And if you put it in your hard disk and it blows up, you have lost it forever. A picture gone is a part of you gone, a memory that will never come back.

Second, because you want your data to move across your devices. If you take a video on your mobile phone, where do you want to see it? On the small screen or on your TV (or - at least - on your PC)? Yep, me too.

Therefore, your data will end in the cloud, eventually. Synchronization across connected devices will drive it. Backup, Time Machine will make it secure and easy. Once your data is in the cloud, you can pick what to share (not everything).

Trust comes in because you need to be sure that the place you put your data in will not give it away, or use it for different purposes. You need a safe for your data, a locker, a place with a key you only have. The bank itself cannot open it, cannot see it. You must trust them.

Who do you trust?

Do you trust Facebook for your important data? Well, rent The Social Network and let me know...

Who could you trust, then?

Your device manufacturer, maybe. Can you trust Apple? Probably, but there is a major flaw in their ecosystems: they are close. You must have iPhone-iPad-AppleTV and so on for everything to work smoothly. If anyone in your family has an Android, the Apple world breaks. Device manufacturers cannot go cross-platform, so they will never be able to be a good digital locker.

Google? I doubt it. Maybe. But their business model is built on sniffing your data and make money on it. They will analyze your information. They will know it. And they have another issue: they are the land of Android and they have neglected all the other platforms because of it. It is Android or a browser, anything in the middle is decaying (look at the poor support they give to sync with a BlackBerry... And they do not even have contact sync on Outlook...).

Anyone else?

The carriers. They can go cross-platform. They have a brand known well. Some of them are even trusted, mainly in emerging markets. Are people loyal to their carrier? Not really. Do you want to give all your data to AT&T, get locked in so you can't move to Verizon. Maybe not. But they definitely have a shot.

Ouch, who is left?

A third party, a startup, someone built with with this idea in mind. It could be Yahoo! or Amazon, or someone we do not even know now. I think a company will eventually own this space, and it is going to be huge. It is all your data in the cloud, it means your life, something you will pay for. To someone not doing advertising, not looking at your data.

Someone you trust.