The UK market for personal data stores, online services that allow consumers to control access to their data, could be worth £1 billion by 2016 – as long as the market explodes in the coming years.
That is the finding of a new report by consumer-focused marketing advisory Ctrl-Shift. The report suggests three ways in which the market for personal data stores could play out in the next few years: market failure; slow organic growth; and market explosion.
Ctrl-Shift speculates that separate personal data stores will be available for different sorts of data, such as energy consumption data or health records. There are 20 million households in the UK, so assuming that each household might use five personal data stores, and be charged around £10 a year for each, that would add up to £1 billion a year.
If there is slow organic growth, Ctrl-Shift expects there to be about 5 million personal data store accounts by 2016, meaning the market will be worth £50 million. And if the market fails to take off at all, it will be worth nothing.
According to Ctrl-Shift’s strategy director Alan Mitchell, it is too early to call which of these scenarios is most likely. However, there have been some signs of interest from large organisations in supporting personal data stores, he says.
"We’ve had lots and lots of private conversations with big organisations that are watching this market and waiting to see what happens."
Another positive sign, he says, is a handful of venture capital investments in online personal data store services. Last week, for example, San Francisco-based Singly, which describes itself as an "open personal data platform" raised $7 million in Series A funding. In January 2011, Personal.com raised a similar amount.
This is not much compared to the huge investements other tech start-ups have attracted recently, but Mitchell argues it shows growing interest. "Five years ago, there was zero money behind this," he says.
Mitchell himself is director of a UK-based personal data store company, Mydex, which launches later this year. He says that the research was conducted independently.