Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The war on the personal cloud has started

I have been talking about (and doing) personal cloud for years now. Ten years ago I wrote the first line of code of what became Funambol (thankfully, now not including any line of code I wrote :-)

I have to admit it: I thought it would happen sooner. I was a tiny bit early ;-) Still, it is still a satisfaction to see it is actually happening.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced a bunch of new features of its personal cloud service, called SkyDrive (including a Mac and iOS app, which is cool). Strangely missing an Android app...

Today, Google announced Google Drive, strangely missing the iOS app...

Both look like great products, although way too vertical (Google is going to be mainly Android, and Microsoft will try as hard as they can to make it Windows Phone perfect) but still better than iCloud, which is the closest thing on planet earth.

However you look at it, today marks the start of the personal cloud war.

I am expecting Amazon to jump on it fully, because their Amazon Cloud Drive right now is just a mockup of what a good product it could be. Actually, I am surprised they will end up late to the party, when they started so early. I believe it is going to be a four horses race, eventually.

Honestly, it does not look good for Dropbox. They just do not have the weapons to fight in a war of this size. The price of storage is going down, and they have no business model or major feature advantage that can sustain their growth. Even worst for SugarSync.

Right now, I am so glad that we positioned Funambol not in the B2C space... I believe the opportunity for mobile operators and the other device manufacturers to fight this battle is still there. They have the size and the reach to consumers (and most importantly, the billing relationship) to make it. In particular, in countries where there are no credit cards and the OTT players are not that strong.

Especially when you look at cross-device synchronization, because I do not see Google or Microsoft or Apple to really do a good job there. And cross-device in a family means everything, in particular if you start adding a lot of other devices, like TVs, DVRs, game consoles, stereos, scales and so on.

The carriers, and those in particular providing a multi-screen service (Phone+Internet+TV) have a great advantage when you look at the family cloud. That is the next battle.

Long live to the personal cloud. We are living exciting times.