‘Cloud Computing.’ That’s Cloud as in ‘Cloud of Fantasy,’ Right?
The long-term shift toward Web-based software is apparently taking a bit longer than expected. According to a new survey from research outfit NPD, 73% of PC users have never tried a Web-based office productivity suite. And of those who have, only a paltry 0.5% have been impressed enough to abandon their desktop office applications.
“The survey results show not only that SAAS [software as a service] firms have a long way to go to build brand awareness and trust among PC users,” Chris Swenson, NPD’s director of Software Industry Analysis, told Microsoft Watch. “But it points to how powerful the Office brand still is, and how difficult it will probably be for most of these firms to dislodge huge swaths of Office users from the grips of Microsoft.”
It would seem, then, that while 90% of computing will someday reside in “the cloud,” as Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently claimed, it isn’t going to reside there for quite a while. “Maybe in the next 30, but not in the next five,” says Burton Group analyst Guy Creese, who suggests consumer adoption of SAAS will follow a path similar to that of consumer adoption of electricity in the late 1800s. “If you look at the electricity-adoption curve, it mimics what is happening now,” Creese explains. “People made their own electricity for the first 30 years. It was only in 1910, when Samuel Insull began creating electricity holding companies, that businesses and people decided it was easier and cheaper for someone to take over the task. If you figure usable PCs were invented in 1975, we’re about 30 years into a 50- to 60-year adoption cycle. People move a lot slower than technologists want them to; that’s why I think Microsoft’s ‘software and services’ viewpoint is the less exciting but more sensible one.”