Cloud Services Users Will Hit 625 Million in 2013: IHS

Every person in this crowd is downloading and uploading tons of images and video.

A new study by IHS suggests that—big surprise—people have become increasingly comfortable with storing and managing their data from the cloud as opposed to a local hard drive.

The research firm’s new data estimates that some 375 million consumers around the world use cloud services, a full 75 percent of the 500 million it expects by the end of 2012. That’s quite a jump from last year. “While no firm numbers exist to show the extend of the cloud in 2011 because it was relatively new and untested,” read the note accompanying the data, “best estimates put global subscribers then at approximately 150 million.”

IHS estimates that the number of cloud consumers will rise to 625 million in 2013, on its way to 1.3 billion by 2017. The firm defines cloud services as platforms for managing and storing either user-generated or purchased content, accessible through a variety of hardware including PCs and mobile devices.

The entrance of Apple, Google and other tech titans into the cloud services space as placed significant pressure on “pure-play cloud storage” vendors such as Dropbox. That’s forcing the latter to adopt a “freemium model,” IHS added, in which a first tier of service is free and charges only apply for added features and more storage space.

“The cloud industry will continue to lose money from pure cloud offerings, HIS believes, and independent providers will find it extremely difficult to remain financially viable,” read the firm’s note. “This, in turn, provides mobile network operators with an attractive opportunity to partner with the pure-play providers and to offer differentiated services.” That could make mobile providers the winners of the cloud race, as they leverage those pure-play companies’ offerings to make their networks a more enticing option for consumers.

Consumer cloud services from major vendors include Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s SkyDrive and Office 365, and pretty much everything offered by Google.


Image: Zbynek Jirousek/