If you think the ICT industry has a hard time coming up with a standard definition of Cloud, then spare a thought for the consumers – not surprisingly, they haven’t a clue. Guy Daniels reports.
According to a new study from market research company NPD Group, only 22 per cent of US consumers were familiar with the term ‘Cloud Computing’. This is despite the fact that 76 per cent of the almost 2,000 respondents reported using some type of Internet-based cloud service in the past 12 months – they just don’t know it’s Cloud. Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis for NPD, said:
“Whether they understand the terminology or not, consumers are actually pretty savvy in their use of cloud-based applications. 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.”
Email, online gaming and tax preparation (yes, this is a US survey…) lead the way in consumer usage.
However, Baker notes that the enormous usage of these cloud-based services has not completely supplanted desktop-computer applications, with 24 per cent of US consumers reported purchasing a PC-based software application in the past six months.
Interestingly, cloud-based office productivity came relatively low down on the list, yet despite the immaturity of this sector the numbers are encouraging – 33 per cent of ‘savvy’ consumers engage in this, along with 24 per cent of ‘non-savvy’ consumers. With Google now being joined by Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud solution, and Apple’s iCloud on its way very soon, these figures are bound to improve dramatically.
But does familiarity with the cloud actually matter? Google and Microsoft don’t play on the terminology with their services, yet Apple is with iCloud. Will consumers be too confused about what the cloud is and, as a result, be reluctant to adopt iCloud-branded services?
Returning to the NPD ‘Digital Software and the Cloud’ survey, consumers who are familiar with cloud computing tend to use it more than those who are unfamiliar with the term. However, depending on the type of activity, there are some relative differences between savvy and non-savvy users. For example cloud-savvy consumers are far more likely to use cloud-based email (84 per cent) than non-savvy consumers (68 per cent), but there is more parity when it comes to tax preparation (44 per cent versus 39 per cent), explains Baker:
“Tax preparation is one area that bridges the PC-cloud divide. 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.”
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