Wozniak: 'I really worry about everything going to the cloud'

Consumers have 'signed away' content they would otherwise own after buying, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has said, while warning of 'horrible problems' emerging as a result of the cloud push
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has expressed serious concerns with the way people's content is increasingly being held in the cloud, rather than stored locally on their computing devices.

According to an AFP report of an on-stage discussion between Wozniak and author-actor Mike Daisey, Wozniak suggested many people would discover problems with the way cloud-based content is often rented rather than owned.

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"I really worry about everything going to the cloud. I think it's going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years," Wozniak was quoted as saying. "With the cloud, you don't own anything. You already signed it away."

It has long been the case that people who may think they are buying software or content are, in reality, only buying a licence to use it. This is evidenced in Apple's own terms and conditions, which state that content from the App Store and Mac App Store is "licensed, not sold".

However, the days of people buying everything on paper, CD and DVD are passing. When material is stored in or controlled from the cloud, it is possible to have access to that material quickly cut off, as Amazon demonstrated in 2009 when it remotely (and accidentally) wiped George Orwell books from users' devices.

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Companies such as Google and indeed Apple are pushing ever harder for the cloud to be the default location for content. One reason Google suspended pre-orders of its Nexus Q streaming media player this month was because people felt it could not do enough — given the device's $299 (£192) price tag, they were likely dissatisfied at the fact that it could only play back content stored in Google's cloud.

"I want to feel that I own things," Wozniak was quoted as saying. "A lot of people feel, 'Oh, everything is really on my computer,' but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we're going to have control over it."

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