Most cloud-computing related discussion has focused on the use of cloud computing by businesses and government.

However,among consumers, we are witnessing a shift to full cloud computing by stealth. Already, consumers use well known consumer cloud offerings, such as Google’s offerings, Facebook and other collaboration and sharing applications. Video and music streaming are becoming more common. For example, Spotify offers access to an enormous catalogue of music which can be streamed. There are no files to download. Customers pay a subscription fee per month.

Will the notion of files residing locally on devices owned by consumers soon seem quaint and old-fashioned? For music and video, will files become rare as streaming takes over? In effect, consumer choice is driving a shift away from files. Firms like Spotify will undermine the iTunes model of purchasing content as consumers cease to own discrete pieces of content but instead gain access to vast warehouses of content.

True, consumers continue to use personal productivity software products such as Microsoft Office which reside locally. But, for how much longer? Cloud-based alternatives are available including products from Microsoft, and these are witnessing very rapid uptake.

Offerings such as iCloud that provide virtual desktops can be expected to gradually displace traditional PC software. Dropbox offers storage as a service and is widely used by consumers. Other consumer offerings that are experiencing rapid uptake are the chargeable Amazon S3 and the Rackspace Cloud.

The consumer IT market has in recent years seen the emergence of new technology giants such as Facebook and Google. Microsoft has continued to address consumer needs and is shifting to cloud computing rapidly. These firms understand consumers and the impact of their behaviours and choices on business and government computing. It is the more traditional IT suppliers which have more distant consumer relationships that stand to lose as consumers drive yet more change in the IT business