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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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 consumer?s 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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 71
    welshdogwelshdog Posts: 1,684member
    "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.
  • Reply 2 of 71
    iluomoiluomo Posts: 25member
    One quote comes to mind:



    "Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread."
  • Reply 3 of 71
    mjtomlinmjtomlin Posts: 1,858member
    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.
  • Reply 4 of 71
    cowhidecowhide Posts: 49member
    I just can't get cirrus about cloud computing, Maybe a thunderbolt will help.
  • Reply 5 of 71
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,990member
    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.
  • Reply 6 of 71
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    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!
  • Reply 7 of 71
    boeyc15boeyc15 Posts: 986member
    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.
  • Reply 8 of 71
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,438member
    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?
  • Reply 9 of 71
    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.'
  • Reply 10 of 71
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 71
    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.
  • Reply 12 of 71
    brutus009brutus009 Posts: 356member
    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.
  • Reply 13 of 71
    jeffdmjeffdm Posts: 12,946member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 71
    diddydiddy Posts: 282member
    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?
  • Reply 15 of 71
    charlitunacharlituna Posts: 7,215member
    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.
  • Reply 16 of 71
    resnycresnyc Posts: 90member
    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?
  • Reply 17 of 71
    wigginwiggin Posts: 2,265member
    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.
  • Reply 18 of 71
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,990member
    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).
  • Reply 19 of 71
    jd_in_sbjd_in_sb Posts: 1,484member
    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.
  • Reply 20 of 71
    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.
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