Category Archives: consumer cloud

Apple to sell ‘personal cloud’ products instore from June

ApolloPromise Technologies has announced Apple will exclusively sell its Apollo ‘personal cloud’ appliances instore from June 7.

The product itself is billed by Promise as a safer way to share and save photos, videos and files, which can be uploaded from anywhere in the world through the Apollo Cloud App which are then stored on a physical device which is owned by the customer. While the device does allow customers to utilize the internet to upload files and data, the offering is seemingly very similar to an external hard drive.

“Promise has a relentless commitment to innovating new solutions that improve how we live and work,” said HC Chang, GM of Promise Technology APAC. “Apollo is our latest innovation, however, it is just the beginning as we are looking at building a whole new line of solutions for the IoT market. We are looking forward to showcasing Apollo to the many users passionate about technology and we are excited to hear their innovative ideas on what the next generation of Apollo should offer.”

The news was made public by the Promise Technologies team at Computex in Taiwan, and to-date there has been no comment from Apple.

Apple has been making efforts in recent months to bolster its position in the cloud marketplace, and this latest effort would appear to be a move towards the consumer market. The company does already play a role within the consumer world; iCloud is a similar offering to Dropbox; though the Promise technology would appear to an alternative for the security conscious customers. In the enterprise world, the company has recently announced a partnership with SAP, to develop iOS apps based on the SAP HANA cloud platform, as well as entering the e-Health market with the launch of CareKit, an open-source software framework.

The introduction of products geared towards the consumer market is not a new move for the industry, as there are already a number of tech giants fighting for market share. Statista estimates 1.74 billion people will be using personal cloud storage worldwide by 2017, with this number increasing to 2.04 billion in 2019.

Dropbox could generally be considered the market leader, announcing it had exceeded 500 million users in March, with Google’s Drive and Microsoft’s OneDrive, also offering similar services. The Promise solution would appear to be a private-cloud-twist for consumers, with increased security claims as well as a customer’s maintaining oversight of their own data, though it is ultimately a ‘on premise’ product, as the company makes no mention of cloud back-up storage. As mentioned before, it would appear to be very similar to an external hard drive, with the added benefits of internet-enabled uploading features.

UK Competition and Markets Authority gives cloud providers a telling off

The seamstress the neck sews clothes in the StudioThe Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is concerned a proportion of cloud storage providers could breach consumer protection law in their terms and conditions, as well as business practises.

Alongside the report, the CMA has sent an open letter to all cloud providers outlining guidance on how the organization can ensure they remain true to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, as well as advice to consumers on the topic.

The concerns are mainly focused around three areas. Firstly, some cloud providers are currently able to change the service or the terms of the contract without giving customers prior notice. Secondly, the cloud provider currently has the ability to suspend or terminate the contract without notice for any reason. And finally, cloud providers are able to automatically renew a contract at the end of a fixed term without giving notice or withdrawal rights.

“Cloud storage offers a convenient means of keeping family photos, favourite music and films and important documents safe, and accessing them quickly from any device,” said Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director for Consumer. “Our review found that people find these services really valuable. However, we also heard some complaints resulting from unfair terms in contracts. If left unchanged, these terms could result in people losing access to their treasured possessions or facing unexpected charges.

“In this rapidly-developing market, it’s important that we act now to ensure that businesses comply with the law and that consumers’ trust in these valuable services is maintained. We welcome the fact that a number of companies have already agreed to change their terms, and expect to see improvements from other companies.”

Although the CMA has not confirmed which cloud providers were potentially in breach of consumer protection law, it did comment Dixons Carphone, JustCloud and Livedrive have committed to changing their terms, as well as business practises.

The CMA also commented that while they were confident there would not be any breaches of consumer protection law following the report, any non-compliance in the future could lead to enforcement action and the CMA could apply to a court for an enforcement order. If that were breached it could be contempt of court and lead to an unlimited fine.

UK Competition and Markets Authority to launch legal probe into cloud storage

personal cloudThe UK’s Competitions and Markets Authority (CMA) is to launch a review of how the cloud storage sector may be affected by consumer law, in the wake of rising concerns about pricing and services charges.

With an estimated 40% of consumers now using cloud storage to store music, images and documents, according to the CMA, compliance with consumer law is increasingly critical.  The CMA says that it is taking action as reports emerge of possible breaches of consumer law through rogue practices and terms.

In one case consumers were hit with surprise price increases and reductions to their ‘unlimited’ storage capacity deals after contracts had been agreed. The CMA is also concerned about incidents of loss and deletion of some consumers’ data.

The CMA’s review is to investigate how widespread these practices are, whether they breach consumer law and how they are affecting consumers. The process, which begins on December 1st, is open for responses until 15 January 2016. The CMA says it wants to hear from businesses about their practices and from consumers and industry experts about their experiences.

“We want to assess whether companies understand and comply with consumer law and whether cloud storage services are working well for consumers as a result,” said Nisha Arora, CMA Senior Director.

If the review finds breaches of consumer protection laws it will take action to address these, it says. This could include enforcement action using the CMA’s own consumer law powers, namely Part 2 of the Consumer Rights Act 2015 relating to unfair terms and for contracts entered into before 1 October 2015 the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999. It can also invoke the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPRs). Alternatively, it may seek voluntary change from the sector or provide guidance to business or consumers.

The CMA has a general review function under section 5 of the Enterprise Act 2002. Information gathered can help the CMA to determine whether further action is warranted. However the CMA says it has not taken any decisions about what it might do once this review is completed.