Tag Archives: Tech

The Death of Physical Storage

It wasn’t long ago that we stored files on floppy disks and CDs. After that came USB flash drives and portable hard drives.

The next wave of computer storage and file backup is the cloud – and it will mean the death of physical storage, including our cherished DVD collection.

The Cloud

The cloud – or cloud computing – is really just a metaphor for the Internet and personal storage on a network. So it’s not exactly new. But increased bandwidth has made cloud storage more practical for both personal and business applications.

The cloud is like a hard drive in the sky, allowing users to store files on a computer network, accessible on-demand from any device with an Internet connection.

Users can upload documents in addition to music, photos, and video as well as use the cloud as a backup service. Files can be stored on the cl

oud rather than saving documents on a local computer – or physical forms of storage – and thus only accessible from that device and susceptible to crashes, accidental deletion or file corruption.

An Internet connection is required to access the cloud; though files can be saved from the cloud to a local device (computer, smartphone, tablet, etc) for offline access.

Services like Dropbox, Google Drive and Carbonite Online Backup save files automatically from a local computer by syncing when files have changed. Multiple users can have access – with permission – to the same cloud drive for easy collaboration on projects.

Cloud Choices

There are public clouds – also known as shared clouds – and private clouds – also called internal clouds, which feature added security and control – as well as hybrid clouds that combine the two. However, most small businesses would be fine with public clouds like Google Drive or Dropbox.

Subscription cloud services are being offered by the Internet’s biggest players including Amazon, Google and Apple. Most companies are offering a free amount of storage space to start, with premium-priced storage upgrades. Amazon and Apple cloud users can purchase music online and save it directly to the cloud or upload their own music collection. Google Drive also touts music storage with its Google Play Music Manager, a branch of the new Google Drive.

How big is the Cloud?

Want to know how big of a player it already is? How many of the digital photos you own are already stored on Facebook, Flickr or Instagram? These services are holding your photos free of charge on their servers – on their cloud. Last year, Facebook was storing a reported 140 billion user photos, at the time representing 4 percent of all photos ever taken.

Today, more than 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day by its more than 900 million users.

I predict that Facebook will introduce personal cloud storage this year, a space to store files, as well as share and collaborate on projects with team members or friends. This would go head-to-head with Google’s new Google Drive, which replaced Google Docs when it launched in April. A Facebook cloud would also go hand-in-hand with the rumored Facebook phone. Facebook did not respond to my request for comment on cloud storage.

How you can benefit from the cloud

You can sign up for free cloud storage today. Whether you want to save files directly to the cloud for safety or collaboration, or use it as a back-up service, you can get started in minutes.

The cloud isn’t limited to just documents, photos and music. Walmart has been pushing a disc-to-digital service called UltraViolet which converts DVDs to digital copies. UltraViolet, which launched eight months ago, has attracted three million users. For an extra $2 per DVD or Blu-ray title, users can purchase a separate cloud-based digital version as well as a digital copy in Walmart’s streaming-video service Vudu. The disc-to-digital conversion includes older DVDs that consumers have already purchased.

How I use the cloud: Google Drive and Dropbox allow me to work on documents from the cloud and save them directly, without downloading them to my computer. This allows me to access them at work, at home or anywhere I have an Internet connection. It also provides me with a higher level of security, in the event my laptop becomes damaged or stolen.

Since my files are on the cloud, they are everywhere I am.

The latest version of Microsoft Office is entirely cloud-based. Microsoft Office 365 combines email, calendars, documents, web conferencing and Microsoft’s full line of Office products in one web-connected cloud service for easy collaboration among team members.

Cloud storage services are in a heated battle to see who can store the most user-data. Photos and music are at the forefront. Movies are next.

What’s next for the cloud?

Say goodbye to DVDs. In the future we’ll store our home movie collection on the cloud. Similar in effect to the way we operate our Netflix library. Buy a movie from Amazon and it’s stored directly to our own personal cloud. Blu-ray discs already come with a digital copy. Soon they’ll come with a cloud copy.

Today’s products and services are geared toward mobility: laptops, smartphones, tablets and entertainment services like Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Slacker and Spotify. Mobile is taking over.

The cloud is the next logical step in connecting our content to our devices for business and entertainment.

The next five years will lay the foundation for cloud storage. As broadband speeds increase and high-speed Internet becomes ubiquitous, the cloud will play host to all of our digital lives and make physical storage obsolet

The Facebook

Launched in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, Facebook sought to connect friends and classmates, drawing inspiration from Friendster. Its platform soon expanded to Stanford, Columbia and Yale, then onto more than 800 college networks.

The Facebook, as it was originally called, was gaining users at an unprecedented rate.

The Internet took 31 years to reach 900 million users; Facebook did it in less than nine.  

Today, Facebook’s goal is to make the world more open and better connected. Its 901 million monthly active users have made 125 billion friend connections, by the end of March.

Facebook is now exploring ways to strengthen those relationships while continuing to build new ones.

Facebook IPO

In arguably the most-anticipated tech IPO in history, Facebook, Inc. (FB) began trading Friday, May 18, at an opening price of $38 per share.

An opening-day software glitch from Nasdaq resulting from last-minute order cancellations delayed the IPO.

The stock closed its first day at $38.23, up 0.6 percent from its IPO price, which was viewed as a disappointing start.

Nasdaq OMX Group, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Robert Greifeld publicly apologized for the delay, saying in a conference call with reporters Sunday, May 20, that the U.S. exchange was “humbly embarrassed” over the glitches that interfered with the IPO.

Shares began to slide one business day after opening, falling 10 percent on Monday to close at $34. Greifeld, however, said the glitches were not responsible for the falling stock price.

The stock slide has been blamed on an entirely separate issue, which has since resulted in shareholders filing lawsuits against Facebook. One suit alleges that important information about Facebook’s financial outlook was not made public but instead “selectively disclosed” to financial institutions prior to its IPO.

Facebook, Inc. finished the week down 16 percent from its IPO price, closing Friday, May 25, at $31.91.

It was a week as climactic as a scene from The Social Network, the 2010 Facebook-inspired biopic.

“There’s a lot of un-fundamental dynamics going on…there are a lot of moving parts that create uncertainty for me,” said Daniel Ernst, Hudson Square Research principal, in a CNBC video report. “The biggest thing that happened from a fundamental standpoint was their mid-roadshow filing, warning on revenues. That’s the point where I said…there ought to be pricing at the low end of the original range of $28 to $34. Then they raised the range and the number of shares. So I think what happened makes sense.”

Facebook mobile and Facebook Camera

In April, Facebook acquired the popular photo-sharing application Instagram for a cool $1 billion in cash and stock. Since the announcement, Instagram’s user base has experienced a 60 percent increase, from 30 to 50 million. The deal is subject to customary closing conditions from the FTC.

Facebook is clearly setting its sights on photo-sharing, a key component of the mobile experience.

More than 300 million photos are uploaded to Facebook each day.

On Thursday, Facebook introduced Facebook Camera for iOS, a standalone photo application where users can shoot and share photos as well as browse recent uploads. Facebook Camera is a very Instagram-like app that syncs with existing Facebook photos, creating a photo-only feed where users can like or comment on friends’ uploads directly from the stream.

“Today, we’re introducing Camera, a new mobile app that makes using Facebook photos faster and easier,” Facebook product manager Dirk Stoop wrote Thursday on the company’s press page.

Like Instagram, Facebook Camera features photo filters and easy editing. Unlike Instagram, Camera allows users to upload multiple photos at once and comment on the entire set. Though, the biggest difference between Instagram and Facebook Camera is the inherent user base.

The company’s recent acquisitions and Facebook Camera are all in tune with its goal of a more open and better connected world – and illustrate its focus on mobile.

Facebook Advertising and Privacy

The more Facebook knows about its users, the more relevant the ads it delivers. This is true with any online advertising platform: Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, etc.

Within the next year, I believe Facebook will incorporate more advertising into Facebook content and the news feed. It has already begun this process with Sponsored Stories.

Watch for the next wave of Facebook advertising to be better integrated and displayed on web and mobile as well as better targeted to users’ interests, activity and likes.

Facebook did not respond to my request for comment on upcoming advertising plans.

What’s next for Facebook

Facebook is positioning itself to be everywhere its users are: on the web, smartphones and tablets.

“We want to have every user in every market using Facebook – we’re investing in smartphones and at the same time as in mass market phones because we believe with great features and great integrations, every phone can become sociable,” said Facebook’s Head of Mobile Business Henri Moissinac in the first quarter of 2011 after Facebook had acquired mobile startup Snaptu.

In addition to the rumored Facebook phone, there were rumblings Friday that Facebook will enter the browser business by acquiring Opera Software.

The company introduced Facebook email accounts in 2011, complete with the @facebook.com address. I see Facebook rolling out its own cloud service, for users to store files and collaborate on projects with friends.

Facebook did not respond to my request for comment on cloud plans or the possible Opera acquisition.

In the past six weeks, Facebook has acquired photo-sharing applications Instagram and Lightbox, gift-sharing service Karma, location-based service Glancee and launched its own photo app Facebook Camera.

Facebook is becoming the entire infrastructure for the web. A platform connecting our interests, likes, photos, messaging, friends, family and life events.

It’s anyone’s guess where Facebook will go from here. But if it accomplishes nothing else, there’s no debating the fact that we’re more open and better connected than we were before 2004, when four college buddies had an idea that would change the world.

5 tech predictions for 2012



5. Content producers skipping the middle man

Zimedium called it on May 8, 2011. In a post titled My predictions for Internet TV and the future of Cable.

“I’d watch for more studios and content owners to explore options for skipping the middle man and becoming the means of distribution for their content.” (See story May 8, 2011)

Louis CK did it seven months later — this December — for his special Live at the Beacon Theatre. Instead of distributing the video through Netflix or HBO, Louis CK put it exclusively on his website. All fans had to do was visit his site, pay the $5 price and download the special. So how’d it turn out? Well, in 12 days, Lois CK’s DRM-free video download made a cool $1 million. And it’s still going

Louis CK’s special is only the beginning. In 2012, more will follow his model. Entertainers, content providers, even premium cable channels.

4. Customized Ads… Tailored to your purchases, browsing habits, check-ins and interests

Ads customized to your interests. Google does it best. Hulu’s already doing it with in-show ads and its Ad Swap feature. You can select what you like instead of watching what Hulu thinks you’ll like. Facebook does it. Facebook displays ads based on what fan pages you like. Foursquare does it too, by offering suggestions based on where you check in. Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley discussed the company’s Explore/Recommendation engine at LeWeb 2011 in early December 2011.

“We went through about two years of Foursquare where people thought that they were checking in for mayorships and points and badges. The check-ins weren’t just for the badges,” Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley said on stage at LeWeb 2011. Every time you tell us that you like to go to this sushi place, we get better about recommending you another place to go to. Every time you tell us that…you know a lot about this area of Paris or this are of New York, we know that you’re really familiar with that neighborhood. And we can suggest other things that you may not know about. Or we know when you’re in areas that you’re not so familiar about we can start offering things that help you out.”

Ads based on what you “like,” tweet, check-in, watch. Information you provide both voluntarily and data acquired based on your actions. Get ready to not hate the ads that interrupt your programming…at least not quite as much.

In 2012, Customized Advertising will be king. Whether you’re aware of it or not.

3. Video-game consoles becoming complete entertainment hubs

We called it an entire year ago, on Dec. 27, 2010. In a post titled When will PS3, Xbox, Wii incorporate Internet TV.

“…When will Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo enter the [streaming content] game themselves? Doing so would offer another bit of differentiation, another perk for owners of each console.

“Who will be the first to fully embrace streaming content or Internet apps?

“Because it’s going to happen, and whichever is the first to act will only begin the next trend in video games and possibly home entertainment as we know it.” (See story Dec. 27, 2010)

Xbox 360 introduced its revamped dashboard one year later, in early December of 2011. The new dashboard featured Internet apps including Netflix, Epix, SyFy, ESPN, Daily Motion, NBC News, Zune, YouTube and Live TV integration if you have the accompanying cable subscription.

In 2012, Xbox will roll out more apps and the rest will follow. It’s only the beginning. The future video-game console will be a complete media hub with dozens, possibly hundreds of channels and apps.

2. Entertainment on the Cloud

I hate the term “cloud storage.” Makes me think the cloud is only for backing up files. In 2012, the Cloud will become more than a backup service. Cloud for movies…music…pictures… and our movie libraries.

(I’m looking at my collection of DVDs and Blu-rays right now.) In 2012, our movie collection will extend to the cloud. Blu-rays already come with digital copies. How about a specially formatted “cloud copy”?

1. A BIG Netflix competitor

Through a few missteps in 2011, Netflix has enjoyed practically zero competition (or at least serious competition). Its maintained the largest number of video subscribers anywhere and built up its library of streaming content. Plus exclusive content on the way.

Zimedia predicts in 2012, one new company (or a service from a partnership of companies) will emerge as the biggest competitor Netflix has seen to date.

But it won’t be the death of Netlfix. In fact, few industries survive without competition. It’s good for business. It fosters growth, sometimes re-invention, and an improved user experience.

Top 10 stories in tech this week

Top 10 stories in tech this week

daily media & tech news found on Twitter.com/ericzimmett

10. Winklevoss vs Facebook court clash lives on http://me.lt/584Sk

9. Apple announces iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Match http://engt.co/jZoUfi

8. HuffPo Surpasses New York Times in Monthly U.S. Unique Visitors [CHART] http://me.lt/9v3YA

7. Bill Gates Opens Up On Anything, Everything In Latest Interview [Bill Gates] http://pulse.me/s/apvd

6. Facebook hires former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart http://pulse.me/s/ckmp

5. Comcast Partners With Skype To Bring HD Video Calling To Your TV http://bit.ly/iAZlOz

4. Square’s valuation soars to $1B http://pulse.me/s/5DqC

3. E3 2011 Is A Wrap! http://pulse.me/s/8gfz

2. Pandora prices at $16 per share, above range http://me.lt/584ls

And the number 1 story in tech this week…

1. I just ousted Joey W. as the mayor of Pizza Hut on foursquare! http://4sq.com/7KC2TO