Category Archives: operators

Storage Wars: Cloud vs. the Card for Storing Mobile Content

Cloud storageIn May, Samsung announced what it describes as the world’s highest capacity microSD card. The Samsung EVO+ 256GB microSD card has enough space to store more than 55,000 photos, 46 hours of HD video or 23,500 MP3 files and songs. It can be used for phones, tablets, video cameras and even drones. It’s set to be available in 50 countries worldwide.

The announcement of Samsung’s new card comes at a time when the amount of mobile content that consumers are creating, consuming and storing on their smartphones and mobile devices is increasing at an exponential rate.  The Growing number of connected devices with advanced features, including high-resolution cameras, 4K video filming and faster processors, are fuelling a global ‘content explosion’.  The content being created today is richer and heavier than ever, placing a growing strain on device storage capacities which could damage the data and impair user experience.

Earlier this year, 451 Research and Synchronoss Technologies charted the growth of smartphone content and found that the average smartphone user now generates 911MB of new content every month. At this rate, a typical 16GB smartphone – which already has almost 11GB of user content on it – will fill up in less than two months.  Given that a high proportion of smartphone owners have low-capacity devices – 31% 16GB; 57% 32GB or smaller – many will (if they haven’t already) quickly find themselves having to make difficult decisions. At the moment, this means having to frequently remove photos, videos and apps to make room for new ones.

It’s also surprising that almost half of smartphone users have no off-device storage in place at all, despite the variety of storage options available. One option is a hardware solution like a memory card. Samsung claim its new microSD card delivers a seamless experience user when accessing, sharing and storing content between different devices (depending on compatibility, of course). Samsung’s suggested price for this experience is $250 however there is another storage option for end-users, the cloud.

Cloud-based storage arguably provides a more flexible and secure method for end-users to back up, transfer and restore their precious content. A memory card, like a phone, can be damaged, lost or stolen. In contrast, the cloud is an ever-present secure repository that retains and restores consumers’ files, photos and media, even if they lose or damage their device or card. However, even in the US, the most mature market for consumer uptake of cloud storage services, more than half of smartphone users are not currently using the cloud to manage their smartphone content.

But why should operators care? 

Subscriber loyalty to operators is being tested. Rather than receive a subsidised handset as part of a contract with an operator, growing numbers of people purchase their devices directly in a regular subscription agreement with the manufacturer instead. Rather than commit to a long-term contract, these consumers enter into no-obligation rolling connectivity-only agreements with their operator.

Offering consumers access to a personal cloud platform is an important opportunity for operators to re-engage with these consumers and keep them tied to their services. Helping subscribers manage the spiralling volumes of their content could be much more effective for operators than faddish offers and promotional bundles to keep subscribers connected to their brand and their ecosystem.

While there is already a lot of cloud competition in the market, such as Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox and Box, however hosted storage and access has the potential to be much more than a “me too” play for operators, or even an answer to churn.

Cloud services can be a viable revenue generator for operators in their own right. They equip operators with an attractive channel for brand partnerships and developers to reach subscribers with an expanded ecosystem of services. Considerable productivity and profitability benefits can also be found, including reducing time on device-to-device content transfer and freeing up operators’ in-store staff for more in-depth customer engagement.

Operators shouldn’t approach the provision of cloud technology with unease. After all, their core business is all about providing secure wireless transport for voice and increasingly data quickly, at scale, and to a wide range of mobile phones and other connected devices. Cloud storage and access is the natural extension of this business. Of course, given the current climate of heightened awareness around privacy and security, it’s crucial to work with a vendor with a strong track record.  However, operators should realise they’re in a stronger position than they think when it comes to providing cloud services.

Written by Ted Woodbery, VP, Marketing & Product Strategy at Synchronoss Technologies