iCloud, SkyDrive, DropBox, Google Drive… There are literally hundreds of online “cloud” storage solutions for mobile users. While a year ago, these services made sense, in today’s capped market, they have just lost their appeal to the masses. As a long time user of these popular storage facilities, some may want to find new solutions for accessing data on the go, while others opt for larger device storage. The largest issue for most, can they still use cloud solutions with those limited data plans, or not?
Looking at the numbers, services like the Amazon Cloud Player will use up about 25MB of data per hour. Streaming music from a Dropbox will use about the same. Uploading those gorgeous 8MP photos to a Picasa folder will set the data plan back about 1MB each. Overall, unless a user streams a ton of music or takes 1000 images a month, they should be fine.
On the contrary, Apps that leverage streaming like Netflix and Hulu, those offline storage areas have even less bandwidth to steal from. This will soon be the new norm as HD screens will require a higher quality, higher bandwidth stream to look good on those 4″+ screens. With those larger streams eating up more and more of those precious data caps, how can a supplier or manufacturer push these services forward?
Microsoft is the one that has made the most headlines as of late, with their Windows 8 – to the cloud – marketing. Microsoft wants users to take their data to the cloud where the three screen platform comes back into play. The three screen platform was the original thought of TV, PC and Mobile device displaying all the same data. It was a great concept before carriers dropped the limits on what can be sent to a mobile device. Going forward, users may not have this option unless the majority of their time is spent within range of a WiFi connection.
With that said, having WiFi is almost a necessity for any smartphone user. While mobile data speeds continue to improve, contract costs and device costs are going to put a crimp in any plans to go uber mobile at this point. We can completely recommend these cloud services as a backup for important documents and data, but we would side with the option of larger on device storage rather than depending on cloud solutions.
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