People everywhere are saving much more multimedia data in online storage services, and more users are forecast to add to this phenomenon. The active accounts associated with personal cloud storage services will exceed 1 billion at the end of 2013 -- that's nearly twice as many as a year ago, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.
Over the next five years the global account base will more than triple, reaching 3.61 billion by the end of 2018. In the meantime, the aggregated data storage utilized by personal cloud services is expected to increase from 685 petabytes in 2013 to an incredible 3,520 petabytes in 2018.
"Various factors are contributing to the rapidly increasing personal cloud uptake -- including the consumerization of enterprise IT and multiple device ownership. For storage needs, the most far-reaching driver is the expansion and improvement of camera technologies," said Aapo Markkanen, senior analyst at ABI Research.
In particular, digital cameras embedded in smartphones have generated large amounts of high-resolution image and video content. This trend toward ubiquitous cameras is only set to intensify, as camera capabilities gain traction in wearable computing and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Personal cloud has by now become a must-have feature for digital ecosystems -- such as Apple, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, and Yandex -- which all use their storage services to strengthen the relationship with the consumer.
These services are posing a challenge to dedicated, platform-agnostic cloud services, but ABI Research expects the latter service category to co-exist with the ecosystem clouds.
Of the standalone providers, they expect the early leader -- Dropbox -- to double down on the enterprise, as a way to attract more premium accounts.
Meanwhile, it is also interesting to see start-ups with new and more innovative technology propositions entering the market.
Players like Bitcasa and Space Monkey are out to test the premise that the personal cloud could ultimately replace the native device as the primary storage for a user's multimedia data.