'Personal cloud' to eclipse PC in just two years – Gartner

Cloud-based services that allow users to access content from multiple devices will be the centre of users' 'digital lives' by 2014, analysts predict

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'Personal cloud' services will replace the PC as the centre of users' digital lives in the next two years, according to IT analyst company Gartner.

Gartner defines 'personal cloud' as services that allow users to store, synchronise, stream and share content, using multiple connected devices such as smartphones, media tablets, televisions and PCs over the Internet. Examples include Netflix, Google Apps, Amazon Music, Microsoft SkyDrive and Applie's iCloud.

This trend is being driven by the proliferation of end user devices, Gartner says. "Users will use a collection of devices, with the PC remaining one of many options, but no one device will be the primary hub. Rather, the personal cloud will take on that role," remarked Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner.

"Access to the cloud and the content stored or shared in the cloud will be managed and secured, rather than solely focusing on the device itself," he said.

Last week, Gartner predicted that personal cloud services will be integrated into 90% of all connected consumer devices by the end of next year.

Speaking in Singapore, Gartner's managing vice president Andrew Jonhnson said that while web companies have been offering online back-up and synchronisation services for a while, the focus on cross-platform access is a recent development.

"A big change has occurred during the past couple of years, with the growing adoption of mobile and portable devices that have limited internal storage and rely heavily on cloud services," he said. "What distinguishes the personal cloud from what came before is its ability to store, synchronise, stream and share as needed allowing consumers greater flexibility in choosing devices and platforms.”