The Cloud’s the limit

There was an announcement this month that Google will no longer be providing unlimited storage on Google Photo for owners of its devices. This this U-Turn shows that the rate we are creating data is faster than we can store it affordably.

This was called out by critics to be unsustainable when Google Photo launched with the Pixel, however, without a way to prove it, many users now may see their photos deleted if they are over the new storage limits.

A common issue with digital data is the ownership. The photos you took but you have no control of: how or where they are stored. The providers can delete and reduce the quality of images which they are storing. 

Many digital service providers in recent years have been seen to change their terms once they have a significant user base, knowing that the inconvenience to change services will keep customers there. 

In this instance, there is a silver lining (pardon the pun) in a reduction of data on the cloud which is stored to never be looked at again. Saving the energy for the data to be transmitted to the data centre, the building of the components to be stored on, the cooling of the stacks and energy to transmit it back again if you decide to scroll back.

In the IOT space, connected device designers supported by AWS or Google are realising the data solutions that were introductory offers are not enough to store and process the vast amount of data produced. The connected devices designers are having to change tack as the cloud isn’t big enough for everyone.

Moving to more edge (on device) processing and reducing uploads, does that mean the user is now using more energy and paying for more complex less recyclable items for the home?

Do you really want to store all of it?

What else is unlimited that might change? 

Streaming services?

It was seen in lockdown that the quality was reduced on Netflix and YouTube. The subscriber had no choice over this and was not what was in their contract. It could be that you could subscribe to either HD or SD versions of a streaming site to reduce the data required. 

Some streaming services allow the first 10 hours a week of streaming for one price but after that increase the cost to discourage binging and background streaming, this was not very popular.

Data Plans? 

Theres already some roll back on unlimited data plans – some are ‘unlimited full speed’ and some are ‘unlimited data’ but with the speed limited after the first 5GB or so, This is called throttling – as the networks are struggling to keep up they are reducing the speed for the unlimited customers.

Wifi downloads?

All broadband plans have a certain speed but some offer unlimited downloads. Currently they can maintain this, if everyone uptake this offer and the increase in quality for streaming and gaming continues they may similarly throttle the speeds to keep up with demand. 

Of course, there could be a reality where you don’t pay for speed or quantity of data, just the priority status when the systems need to throttle. There’s a Sci-Fi book in that – society divided by internet speeds!