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Apple's iCloud faces consumer confusion over 'cloud computing'

post #1 of 72
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As Apple plans to push its iCloud service to consumers this fall, a new survey has found that most people don't even know what the term "cloud computing" means.

Most U.S. consumers do use some form of cloud computing, which refers to a software application or process accessed from the Internet rather than a local hard drive. But a new survey from the NPD Group also found that just 22 percent of consumers are familiar with the term "cloud computing."

Unfamiliarity with the term exists despite the fact that 76 percent of U.S. respondents reported using some type of Internet-based cloud service in the last 12 months. The leading cloud services for users were e-mail, tax preparation and online gaming.

"Whether they understand the terminology or not, consumers are actually pretty savvy in their use of cloud-based applications," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD.

"They might not always recognize they are performing activities in the cloud, yet they still rely on and use those services extensively. Even so, they are not yet ready to completely give up on traditional PC-based software applications."

The survey found some differences between what NPD characterized as "cloud savvy" vs "non-savvy" consumers. For example, 84 percent of respondents familiar with the concept of cloud computing use cloud-based e-mail, while 68 percent who are not familiar with the term have their e-mail in the cloud.

NPD also found double-digit differences between "cloud savvy" and "non-savvy" users when it came to photo sharing (49 percent vs. 33 percent) and video sharing (44 percent vs. 31 percent). But the difference is not as great when it comes to tax preparation, where 44 percent of "cloud savvy" users rely on cloud services, and 39 percent of "non-savvy" users do as well.

"Tax preparation is one area that bridges the PC-cloud divide," Baker said. The consumers knowledge and sophistication matter little in terms of how much they use tax prep services; additionally, it is the only type of cloud-based application consumers have shown a willingness to pay for.

"This might indicate a path to help consumers understand the value of computing in the cloud, and allow retailers and service providers to monetize additional services.



The results come as Apple is pushing its own iCloud service, which will automatically and wirelessly sync data from iOS devices, like the iPhone and iPad, as well as Macs and PCs. Apple's iCloud is set to launch this fall.

iCloud will include cloud-based contacts, calendar and e-mail, allowing users to access their inboxes, events and contacts across a range of devices. Through iCloud, this data will always be up-to-date and in sync.



iCloud will also automatically and securely back up iOS devices daily when users charge their iPhone, iPad or iPad touch. Backed up content will include music, apps, books, photos, videos, device settings, and application data.

In addition, iCloud Storage will provide users 5GB of space to store important files, such as documents and mail. With the new Documents & Data feature, Apple's iCloud will automatically propagate changes made to a file on one device to every other synced device. For example, users will be able to create a document in Pages on their iPhone, and later access it from an iPad, Mac or PC.
post #2 of 72
"I put my stuff in the Cloud, but then it rained. What do I do now?"

Surely that will be heard at a support center someday soon.
post #3 of 72
One quote comes to mind:

"Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread."
post #4 of 72
That term is way over used today... It used to mean or represent part of a communications path that was beyond the reach of an individual or business customer... It was part of the path they connected to, but were not responsible for.

Today it is used a replacement for "online" or even Internet, which are a little easier for people to understand, i.e. You have to be online in order to use the service.
Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #5 of 72
I just can't get cirrus about cloud computing, Maybe a thunderbolt will help.
post #6 of 72
Even as someone pretty tech-savvy, I have to admit that after spending a bit of time looking at the iCloud settings in the iOS 5 beta, I'm a bit baffled as to what exactly each setting does.

Obviously I'll be taking the time to read the in-depth documentation for it, but I'm sure many people won't.
 
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post #7 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

Even as someone pretty tech-savvy, I have to admit that after spending a bit of time looking at the iCloud settings in the iOS 5 beta, I'm a bit baffled as to what exactly each setting does.

Obviously I'll be taking the time to read the in-depth documentation for it, but I'm sure many people won't.

I'm not trying out the beta but if even after reading the documentation things still aren't crystal clear that is not Ã* good sign!
I’d rather have a better product than a better price.
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I’d rather have a better product than a better price.
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post #8 of 72
The point is taken about cloud tax services... Apple would probable do well to keep each service distinct and focused. Roll out the services slowly, have Steve get up and pass on to his masses 'the vision' of each service.
While I might partake in the cloud, Ill keep a local copy of tax returns, music, video etc... just call me a luddite.
Hokey religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster by your side, kid.
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post #9 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

For example, users will be able to create a document in Pages on their iPhone, and later access it from an iPad, Mac or PC.

Access a Pages document on a PC?
I’d rather have a better product than a better price.
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I’d rather have a better product than a better price.
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post #10 of 72
What's really confusing is that you're not really putting your data in the cloud with iCloud, you're mirroring it there.

They should have called it 'iMirror.'
post #11 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

As Apple plans to push its iCloud service to consumers this fall, a new survey has found that most people don't even know what the term "cloud computing" means...

This is hardly unusual though.

As with most things like this, it's the arrival of the Apple product in the category that explains the category to the average user. By this time next year millions of people will be using the cloud (and knowingly so since it will be named "iCloud"), and the results of a similar survey will be quite different.

Most people didn't use a smart phone before iPhone, most didn't backup their computers before time Machine, etc. etc.
post #12 of 72
Fortunately (or unfortunately), MS has been doing its best to pave the way for cloud services with its commercials. Maybe that's where the confusion started...

Working in retail when I was much younger taught me a lot about what people understand... or not... sometimes it scared the hell out of me.

Regardless, what people know or don't know has never hindered progress (or "a progression")... things may have been adopted a bit slower... but things still move forward.
Hmmmmmm...
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Hmmmmmm...
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post #13 of 72
Quote:
"Whether they understand the terminology or not, consumers are actually pretty savvy in their use of cloud-based applications," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD.

Cloud computing is just a new name for an old thing. A survey on whether or not people understand what cloud computing is just demonstrates marketing penetration.

Quote:
"This might indicate a path to help consumers understand the value of computing in the cloud, and allow retailers and service providers to monetize additional services.

Cloud Computing is a pretty name that will bolster the monitizing of something that currently exists largely as free app-to-hardware infrastructure. We're lucky that current aplications continue to utilize a freemium model.

Consumers ought to be made aware. We need to fight for this infrastructure to remain free, even expect it, to encourage widespread implementation. This is a stepping stone to something much bigger, and I think keeping it free will play a large role in advancing to the next platform.
post #14 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by iluomo View Post

One quote comes to mind:

"Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread."

Quote:
Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post

The point is taken about cloud tax services... Apple would probable do well to keep each service distinct and focused. Roll out the services slowly, have Steve get up and pass on to his masses 'the vision' of each service.
While I might partake in the cloud, Ill keep a local copy of tax returns, music, video etc... just call me a luddite.

If you do it wrong, it's a bad idea. But if you're careful on the design and implementation, it's a benefit. Apple's system isn't about having your only copy on Apple's servers. Just take a look at how many people use various forms of web mail. Sure, maybe a couple hours a year you can't access your mail, but that hasn't kept people from using it because web mail is very convenient, you can use it anywhere.

The presentation about Apple's cloud services didn't say that you should have your only copy "in the cloud". He showed how it would help keep files in sync between computers and iOS devices, so in reality, you're safer from total loss of your files because you have backups on the internet, and the same service, also kept backup files on your other computers, which is far safer than keeping your "eggs" on one computer.
post #15 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Access a Pages document on a PC?

You can get at the file, Opening it is another story. Maybe iWork.com?
post #16 of 72
1. What happened to linking to a source so we can see the methodology of this survey to see if it is one of those "we asked the folks that were walking out of a Walmart in the middle of Kentucky" or something with a bit more substance

2. Cloud computing is not exactly the same as what iCloud is doing. The whole Chromebook gig is more "cloud computing' where the apps andy data are in the cloud and you are just viewing the results without really anything being kept on a local machine by default.

iCloud is more merely cloud syncing. For the most part users have their data on their local devices and a local computer along with the apps and the cloud is just the conduit to move between them. There may be some things like the iOS 5 app data backups that are cloud only, then again perhaps not.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #17 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

Cloud computing is just a new name for an old thing. A survey on whether or not people understand what cloud computing is just demonstrates marketing penetration.


Cloud Computing is a pretty name that will bolster the monitizing of something that currently exists largely as free app-to-hardware infrastructure. We're lucky that current aplications continue to utilize a freemium model.

Consumers ought to be made aware. We need to fight for this infrastructure to remain free, even expect it, to encourage widespread implementation. This is a stepping stone to something much bigger, and I think keeping it free will play a large role in advancing to the next platform.

Just for the sake of conversation, and because there may be others like me who aren't so tech-savvy, what _is_ the next platform?
post #18 of 72
I'm not sure I'd even consider Apple's iCloud, in it's current form, as "cloud computing". More like cloud storage. Even with the example of email cited in the article, most people will use their iDevice's or computers email client to access the messages stored in the cloud. They won't be using the web-based email client. So under that usage assumption, it's just the same old email that we've had for over a decade.

Maybe I'm being too much of a stickler with the defintion of cloud computing, but I just don't see a whole lot of computing going on in the iCloud.
post #19 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post

While I might partake in the cloud, Ill keep a local copy of tax returns, music, video etc... just call me a luddite.

Ditto. I plan on using iCloud kinda like an off-site backup. My main backup will still be local, but in case my house burns down and I'm not able to get my backup out, I'll still have a copy of the really important stuff.

Obviously the 5GB limit means it'll mostly be small stuff. If it works well enough, I might spring for more storage space (comparing costs with other backup services).
 
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post #20 of 72
This is a good thing (for Apple) that people don't know what cloud computing is. That means most people will eventually think that cloud computing means Apple's iCloud.

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Please update the AppleInsider app to function in landscape mode.

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post #21 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post

This is hardly unusual though.

As with most things like this, it's the arrival of the Apple product in the category that explains the category to the average user.


Exactly. Smareetphones used to have lots and lots of buttons and nobody wanted one. Apple's smartphone has only one button, so the average guy can understand and not get confused.

Once Apple makes the cloud as easy as the iPhone, everyone will want it.
post #22 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Access a Pages document on a PC?

At least look at it and add notations from the web app, like an editor would note desired changes on a manuscript, but wouldn't edit it for you. This was demonstrated and available for at least a year now.
post #23 of 72
I know what cloud computing is and that is all tha matters.
post #24 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by resnyc View Post

Just for the sake of conversation, and because there may be others like me who aren't so tech-savvy, what _is_ the next platform?

I won't pretend to be particularly tech-savvy, and I speak here only with opinion and (hopefully) a minimum of assumptions.

I would say that the "next platform" is still mobile computing. New mobile device iterations coming yearly with significant improvements prove that the platform is far from fully matured.

The advent of cloud computing represents a solution to a basic problem of mobile computing: how can these mobile devices be useful when all your data is landlocked on a home or office PC? Cloud Computing builds roads between cities of information. This is a logical lateral progression of an application, and that's why Cloud Computing is not a "platform."

For now, all I can see is widespread integration of mobile devices, and it's already happening as we see full end-user computers built into automobiles, touch screens on airplane seats, etc. The Cloud will support these implementations and give them real meaning. Still, that does not constitute a platform, it's just another tool, a really useful one.

Perhaps the next platform will be personal integration, something that creates a standard for any user to be recognized by any device, such that elevators, taxis, public transit, consumer transactions, etc. can all be personalized to recognize individual users for efficiency, preferences, and ease of use.
post #25 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

Access a Pages document on a PC?

Yes, from the cloud you could open your Pages file as a Pages file, PDF file, or a MS Word file.
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post #26 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

What's really confusing is that you're not really putting your data in the cloud with iCloud, you're mirroring it there.

They should have called it 'iMirror.'

Mirror implies just two copies though. Unless they call it "iFunhouseHallOfMirrors," but that doesn't really resonate, does it.

It's really a sync repository.
post #27 of 72
I view "cloud" as separating the what from the how. Store this - I don't care how. Compute this and send me the result - I don't care how. You just throw the problem at the network. It's service provision, as against DIY.

Does iCloud fit that model? The save dialogs in iApps do, when you want to save something you can just say "save to the cloud" and be done with it. The media syncing side of it though, not sure.
post #28 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by maccherry View Post

I know what cloud computing is and that is all tha matters.

If you actually want to use cloud computing, then no, that's not all that matters. If you want some company to actually invest in a system that you can use, it's important that many potential customers know about it - not just you. That's what matters.
post #29 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by auxio View Post

Ditto. I plan on using iCloud kinda like an off-site backup. My main backup will still be local, but in case my house burns down and I'm not able to get my backup out, I'll still have a copy of the really important stuff.

Obviously the 5GB limit means it'll mostly be small stuff. If it works well enough, I might spring for more storage space (comparing costs with other backup services).

You do realize you can't just put arbitrary files on iCloud, right. Only apps that support iCloud can put their documents in the iCloud. There is no iDisk functionality. If you want that, you'll need DropBox or a similar service.

Now, it may be technically possible for an app to accept arbitrary files and put them in the cloud. But I suspect they'd have to be encapsulated in some sort of archive first. I haven't read the developer docs yet to know if this is possible.
post #30 of 72
Hmm...why don't people understand buzzwords that don't mean anything and who have no hands on experience with? Truly a mystery...

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #31 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

What's really confusing is that you're not really putting your data in the cloud with iCloud, you're mirroring it there.

They should have called it 'iMirror.'

Ah, therein lies confusion. You don't mirror 'to the cloud', you copy to the cloud then mirror to all of your devices.
Yet another subtlety that will confuse the waders. Add to that the difference between 'data in the cloud' vs 'apps and data in the cloud' and you have more confusion as to what 'the cloud' is.
This is a paradigm shift that definitely has some risk, and Apple needs to handle education carefully.
post #32 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

You do realize you can't just put arbitrary files on iCloud, right. Only apps that support iCloud can put their documents in the iCloud. There is no iDisk functionality. If you want that, you'll need DropBox or a similar service.

Now, it may be technically possible for an app to accept arbitrary files and put them in the cloud. But I suspect they'd have to be encapsulated in some sort of archive first. I haven't read the developer docs yet to know if this is possible.

I hope Apple allows me to buy more space for a fee.
post #33 of 72
Apple should refer to it as "North Carolina computing".
When someone asks "where is my data?"...in North Carolina.
post #34 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

I hope Apple allows me to buy more space for a fee.

post #35 of 72
Perhaps as time goes on Cloud Computing will have more uses. While its definitely a plus at this point most of the people I work with as well as myself don't see this as a game changer. But knowing Apple they have something in mind.
post #36 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by iluomo View Post

One quote comes to mind:

"Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread."

That would have been poignant indeed... had the year been 2005 instead of 2011.
post #37 of 72
iCloud is primarily a support system for iDevices so you can use them sans a PC plus some added functionality such as syncing bookmark, calendars, contacts, documents, etc. across iDevices and PCs. Unless iOS 5 and iCloud arrive out of beta in the KISS (Keep it Simple Stupid) state and Apple explains it simply, it will be a confusing debacle. As for myself, I have a PC (Mac) and I see no pressing reason to use iCloud as a backup but I'll certainly use the secondary features.
post #38 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by brutus009 View Post

Cloud computing is just a new name for an old thing. A survey on whether or not people understand what cloud computing is just demonstrates marketing penetration.


Cloud Computing is a pretty name that will bolster the monitizing of something that currently exists largely as free app-to-hardware infrastructure. We're lucky that current aplications continue to utilize a freemium model.

Consumers ought to be made aware. We need to fight for this infrastructure to remain free, even expect it, to encourage widespread implementation. This is a stepping stone to something much bigger, and I think keeping it free will play a large role in advancing to the next platform.

Indeed. It will help folks understand better by relating the concept to their primary exposure to technology. For instance, the Cloud to me is similar to handing my boxes of punched cards to the man in the white cloud coat at the data center. I can then access my program from various terminals...
post #39 of 72
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

You do realize you can't just put arbitrary files on iCloud, right. Only apps that support iCloud can put their documents in the iCloud. There is no iDisk functionality. If you want that, you'll need DropBox or a similar service.

There is a section in the iCloud settings called "Storage & Backup". I'm assuming that if you're using iCloud from your Mac, you'll be able to back anything up to it. But therein lies some of my confusion: what exactly does "Storage & Backup" mean?
Quote:
Now, it may be technically possible for an app to accept arbitrary files and put them in the cloud. But I suspect they'd have to be encapsulated in some sort of archive first. I haven't read the developer docs yet to know if this is possible.

Nope. Anything an app stores is fair game to be synced via iCloud. In fact, it would appear that by default, all of the files stored in certain locations within an app are synced if a user enables the "Documents & Data" iCloud setting. But again, it's not completely clear without reading the detailed documentation about it.
 
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post #40 of 72
Any time you see the word "cloud" in the context of computing, just mentally substitute "internet" for "cloud." And see how much clearer things become.

For example:

Quote:
The leading cloud services for users were e-mail, tax preparation and online gaming.

becomes

Quote:
The leading internet services for users were e-mail, tax preparation and online gaming.


Quote:
"Whether they understand the terminology or not, consumers are actually pretty savvy in their use of cloud-based applications," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD.

becomes

Quote:
"Whether they understand the terminology or not, consumers are actually pretty savvy in their use of internet-based applications," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD.

See how easy that is? Substitute "internet" for "cloud" and everything just makes sense. And it also sounds like the sentence could have been written in 1997.

The term "cloud" came from the nebulous cloud images used in flow charts. Yes, those ancient pictographic descriptions of processes and networks. The internet connection(s) between sites, whether it was wired or wireless, was drawn as a shapeless form. Because it didn't matter exactly how the data got between locations. Data is routed between servers and it gets there. Et voilÃ*.

Now "cloud" includes turnkey internet server solutions. As in "Pay us money and we'll set up a server farm for you where land is cheap. Trust us." And those have been around for decades.

Like they say in Hollywood, "There may not be any new stories. But there's always a new audience."

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