It seems like only yesterday — but it’s actually been a few years — since the concept of the cloud picked up steam with the general public. Once an unfamiliar and technical term to people without a degree in computer science, the cloud is now more or less a fixture in everyday life. And that’s especially true for photographers of all levels.
Suite 48 Analytics, a research firm specializing in mobile photography — and not coincidentally the host of San Francisco’s Mobile Photo Connect conference — has found that today 50 percent of mobile photographers now use cloud services for some or all of their photos and that 16 percent store their entire photo collection in the cloud.
“The number one factor that could drive further adoption of photo cloud storage services is for these services to more transparently address mobile photographers’ most pressing photo storage need: secure backup,” said report researcher Hans Hartman, president of Suite 48 Analytics.
These and other revelations, published in a new White Paper entitled Photos and the Cloud, are the result of an online survey the company conducted for Photo Gurus among 1,212 mobile photographers in North America. Respondents between the ages of 25 and 44 had shot photos with a smartphone or tablet during the preceding three months. Of those, 48 percent of respondents were female, 49 percent were age 25 through 29 and 34 percent were parents.
For the survey respondents, cloud services encompassed a wide range of offerings from Dropbox to Apple’s iCloud, some of which sync photos between devices and the cloud, while others like Picturelife and Shoebox aggregate multiple cloud-based photo collections for viewing and discovery. Of those answering the survey, 89 percent considered themselves the primary organizer of their family photos.
Primary reasons for using cloud photo storage are archiving, backup, cross-device viewing, easy sharing and server-based processing.
As cloud companies and services add free, consumer-friendly features such as timelines, metadata photo discovery, visual browsing and unified photo viewing, they also are building a customer base of dedicated users who are willing to pay extra for specific services such as high-volume storage, the report said.
Of the 50 percent of respondents that store photos in the cloud, 43 percent do so for backup purposes. However, even those who primarily use the cloud for backup have different motivations. Some 37 percent use cloud backup only for their most important photos while 23 percent resort to the cloud mainly to free up device space. The survey found the most used services are: Dropbox, Google Drive and iCloud.
However not everyone was enthralled with the cloud, and for those who did not use it, 39 percent said it was because of privacy concerns, while 32 percent were not familiar enough to see its benefits.
In the future, photo organization will rely more on image recognition technologies, according Hartman. And, relevant to today’s heightened concerns about security, cloud services will have to prove themselves trustworthy for safely storing family memories.
“Our respondents were clear: backup is the most important reason why they use these services,” Hartman wrote. “Many are confused as to whether their photo cloud services offer secure backup, as well as whether they would provide full recovery of their original photo collections in the event their devices break down or are stolen. Some services need to better deliver the desired backup and restore features, others need to better explain how their features work.”
The entire White Paper can be downloaded for free from the Suite 48 Analytics site.