404 The Framily Cloud

The Framily Cloud

When I think about a cloud ecosystem I think about its value being largely in synchronization. A key point I try to articulate is that this concept of a cloud ecosystem doesn’t hold much value when all you have is one smart device. Its true value shows up when you have multiple smart devices and want to keep them in sync. Apple’s ecosystem and Googles are making great strides at keeping my content, apps, media, and more in sync. For me and my devices the cloud is working out great.

One of my biggest problems with all the ecosystems I try is that they do a decent job of being my ecosystem, but they do not do a good job at being our ecosystem. When I say our I mean my families.In 2012 I wrote an article explaining the need for a family cloud solution. Here we are almost two years later and I’m not sure we are any closer to a family cloud.

This last weekend, my family and I went to Tahoe. We went sledding, played in the snow, played games, ate good food, and all the while many were taking pictures and video of the whole experience. I always volunteer to make the post vacation family video. When a vacation consists of me, my wife, and my two kids, I’m the only one taking pictures and video. This makes it easy because all the content I need resides on my devices in my ecosystem. This becomes a bit more of a complex problem when content I need resides in other people’s devices and other people’s ecosystems.

Luckily, most of the folks in my family have iOS devices. My solution was to use Airdrop to get all the media I need to my iOs device. While this is the most elegant solution I have used to date to solve this problem it still feels like a wireless version of sneaker net. Ideally, a friends and family network will not just have a better way to share media, but also to collaborate on it. There are still walls between my ecosystem and the ecosystem of others. This is true of iOS ecosystems as well as Android ecosystems. Yet there are very good reasons to let my cloud ecosystem work more closely with my family and friends ecosystems.

Facebook–Google events, and services like it– are getting closer to a broader communal cloud but still do not fully solve the problem. Primarily since they can be used as a family cloud, that is not a problem they are trying to solve. Perhaps this is a complicated problem to solve. I continually see issues in both Google’s and Apple’s cloud synchronization ecosystem as I add more devices to the ecosystem. If these ecosystems are having enough trouble keeping me and my devices in sync then I can only imagine it is more difficult as we transition from my ecosystem to our ecosystem. In my home, we have in use two Macs, and 8 iOS devices. Each persons cloud works fine, but there are glaring issues having a unified ecosystem for our family. This problem only gets worse with heterogeneous ecosystems of Android and iOS not only exist but are common in the market place.

While the personal cloud is a service, so should be the friends and family (framily) cloud. When I do deep dive analysis on ecosystems I look for dependencies that ecosystem creates. Solve the framily cloud and it will add another layer of depth and decencies for the provider who solves it.

  • Bruce_Mc

    Phablets are for frenemies, not framily. :-(

  • Will Beech

    Interesting that you chose airdrop rather than shared photo stream… Surely that’s pretty close to the framily shared cloud you are talking about. At least for photos and videos anyway….

  • benbajarin

    Photostream is useful, especially now that invited people can add to it, however, it degrades the quality of the content. To make a HD video I need the full file sizes. Interestingly, I took about an average of 15-20 bits of media some photos and some videos from three other people. Airdrop took less than 5 minutes in each case. Some of the transfers had to be more than 300mb so that was clean.

    There are many more implications than just the few I shared. Like the need for something like iTunes theatre that is cross platform and sharable. I’d like my parents and all the kids grandparents to be able so see our family media on their devices and their TVs in a clean “family” portal for example. I have lots of thoughts on this as I have been thinking about it for a while.

  • Will Beech

    You make some fair points. Apple are an iterative company though, and I think they have the right foundations on which to build. They just need to replicate some of the features of photo stream into iMovie Theatre and vice-versa! (If only it was that simple). Some of what Google is doing with G+ background media upload to selected circles also is heading in the right direction but there just isn’t the user base currently. I hold a lot of hope though that we are only at most only another 2 years away from near-perfection. Whilst to us as ‘more informed’ people/market watchers that’s frustratingly far away (appreciating the fact you (and others) were talking about this 2 years ago), we need to be cognisant that ordinary consumers are only just figuring out what the cloud actually is. With iCloud starting to see ubiquitous access via the web (see iPhoto journal sharing, iMovie sharing etc) I think even apple are appreciating that the success of will hang on how heterogenous the solution can be.

    One of the biggest areas for me is the sharing of a music library amongst my family. They literally need to have access to my device to be able to easily* play anything from my collection. That’s less of a technical problem and more of a licensing one however but it belongs to the same ambition.

  • benbajarin

    Yes, I totally agree that Apple has the best foundation for this going forward. But they need to start thinking about iCloud and AppleID less like islands. Right now my wives Apple ecosystem and my daughters are all islands. Some things have gotten better but most still aren’t functioning as a comprehensive whole.