Nearly Half of Computer Users in the Clouds, Study Finds

Services like Gmail and Flickr are sending folks into the clouds, even if they don't grasp the concept yet

Nearly 45 percent of computer users across the globe are venturing into the digital cloud with services from Flickr to iCloud, according to a new survey by the Business Software Alliance and Ipsos Public Affairs. 

Business Software AllianceHowever, the percentage of people using cloud-based services to store data is much higher in mature economies, where 50 percent of those surveyed use cloud data storage. In the developing world, the percentage is 33 percent. 

To chart the embrace of cloud computing, the study's authors surveyed nearly 15,000 computer users in 33 countries.

When it comes to what cloud services people use to store their data, online email providers like Gmail and Hotmail are far and away the most readily exploited. Seventy eight percent of those surveyed said they use such providers for their email needs. 

Also read: Consumers Like Cloud Technology — Just Don't Ask Them to Pay

Also widely used are word processing services, with 45 percent of respondents using services like Google Docs. Forty percent use photo storage services like Flickr.  

Yet many still have only a hazy understanding of cloud computing. While 59 percent of those surveyed had heard the term, only about a quarter of them were “very familiar” or “quite familiar” with it. 

Clearly, they're in the clouds, just not too aware of their surroundings yet.