It is common these days for industry observers to note that thad devices and applications are competing, to some extent, with service providers. Skype was the app that exemplified the trend, a decade ago. Since then, things have gotten more complicated. Apple’s Facetime essentially competes with other stand-alone videoconferencing services. WhatsApp Messenger competes with text messaging.
Much of the disruption, or potential disruption, is happening in the mobile realm, for a number of reasons. For starters, mobile is the focus of most efforts at creating new services and apps. A smart phone is the “computing device” available, ultimately, to nearly everybody, carried with those users all the time.
That means any Internet-delivered app now has a base of users many times bigger than the PC. Those apps can be used ubiquitously, all the time, and can span both “work” and personal lives.
By definition, mobile devices are “personal,” Also, by definition, apps, devices and services aimed at “people” will achieve greater volume than services aimed at “organizations” or “households.”
And, since advertising and promotion increasingly are the revenue sources for many applications, volume and engagement matter.
But that is not the only change Cloud computing means users of smart phones can use apps and data without regard to the limitations of local storage, across devices. In fact, it is hard to separate the impact of cloud computing and mobility, over the longer term, as it is impossible to separate the use of “search” or “social networking” and “cloud,” for example.
But it is much harder to determine which contestants, or which ecosystems, will win or lose as cloud computing and mobile apps continue to displace existing ways of doing things.
Part of the difficulty is that the mobile ecosystem now features both some level of competition between ecosystem segments and firms, as well as competition between the mobile ecosystem and other ecosystems.
Enterprise cloud services might compete with packaged software suppliers, data centers or server manufacturers, for example.
Small business cloud services might reduce the amount of revenue earned by value-added resellers or system integrators.
Consumer cloud services, especially those related to storage, will displace some of the need for local storage, and could reduce demand for external hard drive storage and some amount of PC sales.
And the potential disruption will be easier, with every passing year. By the end of 2013, consumer cloud services for accessing content will be integrated into 90 percent of all connected consumer devices, according to Gartner.
“The shift to the personal cloud will accelerate rapidly in 2012 as consumers learn how to use new services on their devices,” said Andrew Johnson.Gartner managing vice president. “As cloud services become part of people’s lives, device vendors and platform providers must integrate cloud services in order to win customers in 2012 or risk being displaced by those that offer these services, he says. “Brands must stretch across multiple devices, platforms and services.”
Note the language: “devices, platforms and services.” In the consumer services realm, and to some degree in the enterprise and smaller business markets, mobile apps and services based on cloud mechanisms will increase the amount of direct competition between mobile ecosystem segments and firms.
In part that is because smart computing devices increasingly lead consumer electronics sales. Gartner estimates that globally, consumers will spend approximately $2.2 trillion on digital technology products and services in 2012, or about 10 percent of the average disposable household income.
By 2015, consumers will spend some $2.8 trillion worldwide on connected devices, the services that run them and content that is transferred through them. If 90 percent of those devices can use cloud services, it seems likely that more people will use them.
Gartner predicts that personal cloud will become widely adopted by 2015, but that in 2014 less than 10 percent of consumers will use cloud services as their main storage. That suggests that traditional storage initially will be augmented by consumer personal cloud services.