May 12, 2010 – Of the 1,000-plus U.S. consumers responding to a 2010 ABI Research survey on consumer cloud computing, the majority are hesitant to pay anything for use of a cloud-based service site, according to results released this week.

Most cloud-based backup and storage sites provide consumer services either entirely free or free at the entry level, but several provide a more robust offering on a paid basis. According to ABI Research, behind the price/cost issue, the primary reason most consumers considered using a cloud-based application was accessibility of content from any Internet-connected computer. More than 143 million consumers took advantage of applications in the cloud in 2009, and this is forecast to grow to nearly 160.6 million by the end of 2015.

Almost all cloud products outside the realm of backup and storage are free to consumers, says ABI Research practice director Larry Fisher. “They’re provided that way as a loss leader, so that consumers will talk it up, and then at the enterprise level, IT folk will follow up and look into it, reduce the numbers of servers they have to manage and save money.”

ABI Research’s analysis found that just 11.6 percent of the U.S. consumer market for online backup/storage services was paid for in 2009. Revenue related to consumer use of cloud-based backup/storage sites will grow from almost $75 million in 2009 to more than $372 million in 2015, at a compound annual growth rate of 27.89 percent. Growth in the paid sector will be due to increasing use of netbooks and other mobile Internet devices as well as growing public awareness of cloud computing applications and disasters that result in utility service disruptions.

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