I know this has been going on for a while, but recently with the Xbox One announcements it has made me think about it more and more. There are so many things moving to download online and you either buy the code to authorize the download or you tie it to a login account. I have friends who do not have any cable and just have Hulu Plus, Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others where they get and either watch or download movies and tv shows. We are moving away from owning a physical copy of something and either having a digital copy or paying for continued access to an online version.
David and I have moved toward watching more stuff online, but we still pay for a lot of physical items as well. We do e-books, download tv shows, rent movies, but we still buy the blu-ray of certain shows and we also like to support local book stores (woohoo Tattered Cover). There is some level of trust that is there with keeping stuff in the cloud. If you truly keep everything in the cloud you have to trust that the company you bought stuff from is going to be around for a good long while. There is some trust that we put into Amazon when we buy their e-books because they store the books for us and we can download it for us, but they have to be around for us to continue to download the books we have already bought from them.
The secondary issue is that not too long ago, in a ploy to stop piracy, many internet providers have decided to move away from unlimited download size. They are increasing the price to be able to download at a decent speed and to be able to download enough data. With moving to the cloud, more and more people will need / want faster internet and higher limits. It is not only downloading that becomes an issue, but video chat, online games, etc. We are moving towards a world of being online (original Xbox One design) and the internet providers do not seem to have a model that is conducive to being an online society.
Trust the Cloud
Trust in the cloud is a difficult thing. I know that physical media can also go bad and get corrupted so having something in the cloud that you can just redownload is nice, but if you are not connected than you do not have access to that media. A physical media I can be almost anywhere and still have access to it. With anything in the cloud I have to be online in order to access it. Now there are two different types of in the cloud.
One is services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu Plus where I pay a fee to access these videos and while I have access to a lot of things at once I always have to be connected to actually access these services. If the internet goes down or the service itself goes down then the money I have paid in does not mean anything I do not get to watch my favorite movie or my favorite show because I do not own it myself. I have heard others talking about why should I own when I can watch online, but what happens if you pay all this money to stay connected and one day you aren’t anymore. Then what do you do.
The other type is the Apple and Kindle model. With iTunes you do not have to download everything (although they actually recommend it), but can listen to your songs on multiple devices and have apps download to multiple locations at the same time. With the Kindle I do not have all my books on my device at one time, but I have access to download my books to multiple devices. I often choose to not have all my books on my device though, which it might be that I have such a large connection of books that losing my kindle books would not be the end or that, for some reason, I have not thought about that with my kindle. At the same time there was a huge issue with Amazon pulling a book that people had already paid for because they were not supposed to sell it. At the same time once you have bought something people usually cannot just take it back.
The cloud definitely saves space and helps me not to clutter my house with DVD’s, books, video games, etc, but I still like owning physical copies of certain things. I am willing to do the cloud for certain things, Xbox Arcade games, tv shows, music, but I like own either the digital or physical copy. Video games in particular are a difficult sell for me, looking at you Xbox One. You just pay so much money for most video games and if you download it to the console and the console goes bad how much of a pain is it to then get the game on another console. I want to be able to take my game disc to any console and play it. I can play with my friends loan each other games and I have the ability to keep playing that game and not worrying about losing my copy because I have the disc.
Most people complain in some way about their internet provider. I do not know that I know anyone that is absolutely in love with their internet provider. The direction that most internet providers are heading is just not conducive to living life in the cloud. The limit to how much you can download and upload and making people pay more to get faster internet means that there is an increased cost to living in the cloud. Some of it depends on what you want to do in the cloud. If you actually participated in all the online media then you might end up spending more money than if you were using cable and buying physical copies.
The decision to reduce speed and limit data may have come from a desire to reduce piracy, but I feel like it might be reducing some progress or making the cloud services an elite service. The cost for being online is not cheap, David and I did a lot of math to figure out that we save money by doing minimum cable and downloading tv shows we do not have access to on basic cable. At the same time this is a service that is helpful when you do not have the space to hold multiple bookshelves. If you have everything digitally or available on the cloud you could basically have a box to store everything and access to download things. You could easily be in a one bed room apartment and still have a ton of space.
Cloud services are definitely a growing industry, not a shrinking one. Even software is being offered as something you just download and enter in the code that you bought at the store. This is a very first world problem, but the benefits of being online is not just a first world problem. Being on the cloud creates different environmental issues, but reduces waste, although increases electricity use. Also, there is no longer the need to have a huge library because you can have an entire library on your Kindle. The ability to save on space usage could be huge as we move toward the future. The issue is still raised that what happens if these businesses fail or connection is lost. Suddenly all the cloud services you have paid to have access to become obsolete. How much trust do you put in the people running the variety of companies that make cloud services a possibility?