Is Content Aggregation the Next Step for Consumers and the Cloud?

Alan Bullock
Mar 29, 2013

Consumers are increasingly turning to online cloud services to protect important files and to access them from the always-connected devices that they carry with them. Last October, InfoTrends conducted its inaugural U.S. Cloud Services End-user Survey, collecting responses from more than 1,200 online consumers. We found that cloud service awareness was high (more than 70%) and, based on a general description of cloud services, nearly half of respondents said that they were already using at least one. When prompted with a list of cloud services, the usage rate climbed even higher.

Users told us that they are storing their files in the cloud for all the right reasons. More than 65% said that do it for backup and safekeeping, more than 40% for access from more than one computer, and about one-third to automatically synchronize files between devices. But these seem to be acquired tastes, as the number one reason for starting to use a cloud service was a free storage offer.

Indeed, most cloud services offer a limited amount of storage for free, hoping to demonstrate their value to their users and convince them to upgrade to paid accounts with more (or unlimited) capacity for a monthly or annual fee. It is a truism that Internet consumers love free stuff, so it should come as no surprise that more than half of the cloud services users in our survey said that they are not paying for the service(s) that they are using. About one in four said that they would probably upgrade to a paid account if and when they reach the free storage limit — not a bad conversion rate for a “freemium” business model. Others said that they would delete some files to stay within free storage limits, but about one in three would open other free accounts to get more free storage — some using a different e mail address at the same cloud service.

Therein lies the challenge for consumers, and the opportunity for a relatively new group of online services that we are calling “content aggregators”. These services provide consumers with a single view of all of their content stored on various online sites. Some, such as Everpix, Woven, and NeroKwik, are designed around photo and video content, while others, such as Primadesk and Otixo, support most, if not all, types of files. Users have unified access to all of their linked content through various combinations of websites, mobile apps, and even Internet-connected TV apps. Cloud service users in our survey expressed strong interest in such services; more than 90% were at least “somewhat” interested.

As the number of online sites that consumers use to store their files increases, so does the challenge of keeping track of those files. Content aggregation services offer the promise of simplified access and organization. Some already include intelligent indexing, search, and retrieval tools. As they get better, their popularity among consumers will grow, as will interest from larger cloud services who are seeking to add value for their customers.

Full results of InfoTrends’ 2012 U.S. Cloud Services End-user Survey, are available to clients of our Connected Imaging Trends service or from the InfoTrends Report Store. For more information, please contact Matt O’Keefe at matthew.okeefe@infotrends.com or +1.781.616.2115.

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