A place for my stuff, cont.

A place for my stuff, cont.

: Fred Wilson continues the dialogue on a place for my stuff: Is it a server in your house or up on the Internet? (My latest posts here and here; Ed Sim’s here and here.)

With all due respect to these guys who know a helluva lot more about making successful business than I do, I still want to keep pushing this issue up the ladder to see it from a more strategic viewpoint.

Let’s make two (somewhat risky) strategic assumptions:

1. Always-on-everywhere broadband will become ubiquitous soon. See this note on Wi-Fi news with Sprint, AT&T and Cingular fighting over getting high-speed wireless access up soonest. This means that you will be able to get to your stuff from any device anywhere anytime — even on a plane. Once that happens, it’s less important what you store on your device. It’s also less important what clients you have; any client can get data from anywhere.

2. The entertainment and technology industries will figure out digital rights management so that you will be able to store your stuff where it’s convenient — whether that’s on your iPod or on your TiVo or on your TiVo in the cable cloud. OK, this is an optimistic stretch, but if these industries don’t figure it out, they’ll be committing murder-suicide. (See lots of DRM coverage from Ernie Miller.)

Once these assumptions come true — if they do — you should not worry what device you’re using with what clients and what you’re storing where. You will want to get to your stuff from anywhere anytime on anything.

That’s why storing your stuff in the cloud is preferable.

Short of that, you may want to store your stuff in this device or that — but that really means you’ll want to be able to sync your stuff (which is an opening for a company like FusionOne, which happens to be one of Fred’s portfolio companies).

In any case, I won’t want to worry about having to get a song or show from this TV to that PVR to that laptop to that video iPod; I will want to either (a) download or stream — it shouldn’t matter if bandwidth is sufficient — to anything from anywhere anytime or (b) download and sync seamlessly. This still argues for storage in the could, not on a single device I have to install and manage in my home.

  • http://www.themediadrop.com Tom

    Also – it’s not about the carriers coming up with wireless Internet – 3G is fine, but the networks are too crappy to run it efficiently here, IMHO – McCaw is working on wireless broadband, which you’d pay a monthly subscription fee for, just like you pay for your home’s Internet connection. If that were ever to kick in, it would be crazy….well, unless it was $100 a month.

  • http://www.brendonwilson.com Brendon J. Wilson

    One of my colleagues at work has introduced me (in my transition from a software engineer to a product manager) to a very important question: what are you trying to accomplish? In this context, what is the purpose of having a network-based server? To make sure you have access to your stuff, such as pictures, music, etc, presumably.
    I don’t know about you, but I have every piece of electronic data I have created since about 1996 on my laptop (aside from my web site), which accompanies me at all times. Aside from the incovenience of the physical bulk/battery life, this pretty effectively gives my access to my “stuff” at all times.
    If hard drives continue to get bigger in density while shrinking in physical size, and wireless becomes more and more pervasive, is there any reason to believe that the mass total of a user’s “stuff” wouldn’t just sit on the user’s hip in a device like a smartphone? In this scenario, the user’s data would always move with them, and content would be streamed to the device constantly. The only requirement for a home server, that I could see, would be to provide a backup facility. And maybe a web/mail server if such a quaint notion still exists in a few years.
    The only other purpose, that I could see, for a home device would be access bandwidth intensive services not suitable for wireless delivery, such as movie downloading/TV recording. However, would we really expect people to want the stuff on their Tivo accessible anywhere, anytime? Maybe, but it’s likely that on-the-fly purchases of content will have rendered the notion of buying cable and screen-scrapping the content you actually want with a Tivo to be as quaint a concept as running a web server.
    So, to come back to the question: what are you trying to accomplish? Other than have access to your pictures, data, etc? Are you trying to enable others to have access to it to address the problem of you (and your uber-compact 1-TB smartphone) not being located in close proximity to someone else who you want to provide access to your “stuff”?

  • http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm DirtyDingus

    Brendon’s comment chimes in with what I wrote here:- http://www.di2.nu/blog.htm?20040612
    You need one or two very large backup devices – probably one at home and one in the office and your laptop. The rest is fluff.

  • andrew

    I think the hip-stuff device brendon wilson mentions would be one strong way to go. If it were durable enough to last several years, cheap enough to get more than two for backups, and fast enough to backup everything frequently.
    in this future, where everywhere we go we’ll be interfacing with major high-power devices (not just cells and pdas), to not be carrying one ourselves might feel illogical, at least in the near term.
    The cloud does make sense. It just might not feel right in a personal property way. Would it be safer than a home server? I foolishly entrust all my pictures to a 5-year-old powerbook, but I’m not sure I’d entrust 10 or 100 times that volume of work to a server company I have to pay every month and badger for competent customer service.

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