So. . .just how many cloud companies are there?

Since the advent of the smartphone (thanks Apple) cloud companies are popping up on every virtual corner, much like Starbucks did early on.

In my quest to see just how many cloud companies there are, I figured I’d start with a simple Google search.  Right?  I mean Google is the best for this type of thing!

So, I proceeded to type “cloud companies” in a google search bar. 133,000,000 results in just 0.47 seconds.  Yep…I’m that guy.  I broke Google  (sorry Google!).

Ok, so that didn’t really work.

So I moved on to the Google Play store and navigated to apps.  There, I typed in “cloud” and immediately got over 200 apps flooding my screen.  I’m not entirely sure how many apps over 200 because I simply stopped counting.

Ok. . .clearly this approach isn’t working.  So how do we determine just how many cloud companies there are? And moreover, does anyone really care?

Definitely more than 3

At this point, I’ve decided to take the “Owl and the Tootsie Pop” approach (if you’re my age, you’ve seen that commercial) and just saying who cares?

Because in the end, we don’t really care about the number of companies, what we care about is what they can do for us!

As consumers, we all have our “lists” of things we seek in pretty much every aspect of our digital shopping.  My cloud list is relatively short and focuses on (1) ease of use (2) availability of my stuff (3) keeping my stuff safe and (4) being able to share and stream my stuff.

While most of these things seem relatively simple, this is where the list of cloud companies starts to get smaller.  Let’s take a brief look at these four aspects.

The cloud SHOULD be easy…so why isn’t it?

Ease of use is a key for all of us.

How many times have you gone to your app store and downloaded an app that seemed to suit your needs, only to find that you simply have neither the time nor the energy to figure out exactly how to use it?

Or, how many times have you wanted to share some photos with your grandmother and you wind up being her tech-support guru because she’s literally lost as to how to access the files you shared.

You’re not alone.  This happens to all of us.

I’m pretty much a classic tech-nerd (sans the tape on my glasses) and even I get frustrated with some of the choices out there.

Where is that file again?

And what about the availability of our files and images?

This one gets a bit tricky too because it isn’t always as simple as creating a cloud account or installing an app.

Does your app require you to upload all of your files to a single point of storage in the cloud?  Do you need to put everything on an external NAS device connected to your router at home?

Availability is mandatory for all of us, yet, achieving it can sometimes be laborious.

I mean sure, at first you tell yourself “it’ll be great to put all my files in one place, so I may as well just break down and do it”.  But soon you’re back to your old ways and you’ve got files all over the place, spread across every device you own.

Once again, you’re not alone.  I’m notoriously bad at organizing my digital life.

I have some “special” pictures…if you catch my drift

So what about keeping our stuff safe?

I’m not a snapchat or Facebook sort of guy (cause I’m in the witness protection program) but If I was, I’d want to know that I can maintain ownership and control over my images.

Let’s say you’re out taking pictures and you capture some amazing photo of a sunrise or stars reflecting off a lake.  All your friends and followers are suddenly enamored with your photographic prowess and you suddenly become a bit concerned about your ownership of your content.

Again, you’re not alone.

That’s why you see companies watermark their images all the time.  So protection of our digital content is an important aspect of our personal cloud.

If sharing is caring, then I’m a very caring person

And finally, what about the ability to share and stream?

These are hallmarks of social media.  Without the ability to share your files, the very aspect of social goes right out the window.

The ability to get those pictures to grandma safely and simply is just as important as sharing your favorite song with your best friend.

And let’s not forget the frustration of being the tech-support guru for the friends and family you share with.

Quality over quantity

Ok. . .so what’s the point of all this?

It’s simple really.  We’ll never ever know how many cloud companies are out there because as soon as we count them all, more will pop up.

But what we do know is what we need.

Make your own list of priorities for your digital lives as I did above.  Pick and choose the aspects that are important to you and you’ll find that you can quickly eliminate a great deal of companies with just a few simple searches.

And don’t forget to read the user comments in the app stores.  These folks are just like you and me.  They’re seeking something that can help them solve a need, so there’s a good chance that they’ll share something you’re also interested in.

And above all, stay safe.

Make sure you take a little time to vet the companies you choose to share your precious digital lives with.  This is your stuff, not theirs.  Make certain you get to maintain your rights to it!