Consumer cloud-based services are turning out to be one of the biggest hits of 2012, based on new report from market intelligence firm IHS iSuppli.
The number of personal subscriptions to online storage services is set to surpass previous projections. The number of subscriptions worldwide already toppled 375 million within the first half of 2012. The original forecast for the entire calendar year was just 500 million.
Subscriptions to cloud services -- free or paid -- are expected to jump even higher to 625 million globally in 2013.
But considering the pace already seen in 2012 and the growing demand for mobile ubiquity (which, in turn, depends on data stored in the cloud for anywhere access), it's quite possible that forecast could be conservative.
Jagdish Rebello, director for consumer and communications at IHS, explained further in the report that the cloud is essentially a "game changer" with the benefits it offers to both consumers and cloud service providers:
For consumers, cloud services are intended to manage and store user-generated data or purchased content, such as music, ebooks, pictures or videos. The content can then be seamlessly accessed and synced across devices like smartphones, media tablets and PCs. Meanwhile, technology companies are looking at the cloud as a way to generate revenue.
It's important to note that while this figures might seem impressive, there isn't much to compare them to from past years. That's because, as IHS researchers cited in the report, cloud storage services for consumers were "relatively new and untested" as of even just last year.
But looking forward, it's important to consider which companies are really going to see the payoff with this trend.
While IHS highlights that smaller "pure-play" cloud storage services like Dropbox and SugarSync are seeing success with freemium models with 2GB to 5GB of free space per account before charging for extra, it is the tech giants such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon to really consider.
In the long run, it's these companies that have the scalability and resources to meet both consumer and enterprise demands with the potential for undercutting prices for extra storage.