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Cloud lockers set for big growth, but will UltraViolet be part of the action?

Posted by Colin Dixon
As part of the new Global Cloud Index, Cisco released forecasts for the growth in personal cloud content locker traffic. With the company forecasting 63% annual growth rates, the future looks rosy for services in this category. The company listed services such as Google Drive, DropBox and iCloud as examples of content lockers. Noticeably absent from the list of services was UltraViolet, the movie storage locker standard. As I dug into how UltraViolet is doing, I quickly realized Cisco was justified in not calling it out specifically. 

The Cisco numbers certainly show that consumers are quickly adopting cloud services and storage. The company expects 36% annual growth in consumer cloud IP traffic through 2017, growing from 1.4 Zettabytes a year in 2013 to 4.3 ZB in 2017.* Personal content lockers, though a small part of the overall total, will be one of the fastest growing types of consumer cloud traffic. In 2013, it will generate 4 Exabytes of traffic (0.3% of total consumer cloud traffic.) By 2017, it will drive over 20 Exabytes a year (0.5% of the consumer total.)

Looking at numbers for UltraViolet growth, you might think Cisco was remiss in not calling the format out. According to DEG, there are now 13 million consumers with UltraViolet locker accounts across six countries, and the number of accounts has grown 44% in the first half of 2013. DEG also says there are over 10,000 film and TV titles available to watch in the format, though an individual user is not limited to just those. A consumer can take their DVDs into Walmart and pay a small fee to get a copy of the movie in UV format stored in their personal locker. Some movies are also sold with a digital code which unlocks a UV copy of the movie.Unfortunately, there is no way to translate this data into usage. DEG does not release how many movies have been sold in UV format, though they do say that electronic movie sales (of which UV is a part) were $490 million in the first half of 2013. Walmart also doesn’t reveal how many people have converted a DVD into a UV locker copy. There is also no information about how many people have redeemed a UV unlock code for a movie disk they have purchased.Streaming Media magazine does provide some hints about how people are using UV, and it’s not to stream movies from their lockers. According to the magazine, most people create a UV account so that they can unlock and download a digital copy of a movie they have purchased on disk.

Compared to services like iCloud, UV numbers look almost silly. Apple reports 300M iCloud users, a 20% increase over this year’s first quarter.

Today, then, it looks as though UV is still struggling to establish a user base that is ready to accept cloud based ownership of their movies. The Cisco forecasts, however, should give UV promoters hope for the future.

Why it matters
Consumers have been slow to adopt online ownership of movies.

UltraViolet was created to provide a single standard for cloud lockers for digital movie ownership. As yet, it has not found a sizable audience.

Cisco cloud locker growth projections should give UV promoters hope that consumers will accept cloud ownership, and will ultimately accept the UV approach.

*One Exabyte is a million Terabytes (10^18 bytes), one Zettabyte is 1000 Exabytes (10^21 bytes)


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