Death by 1,000 clouds

I subscribed to¬†Pocket Premium a couple weeks ago. Then I found Stache for iOS and Mac, a somewhat similar bookmarking app that saves full copies of webpages in iCloud, and it got me thinking about all the clouds for which I’m paying recurring fees. The stuff we create, save, and care about is scattered across myriad¬†clouds, each with their own rules, pros, and cons. Do I really need another?

For a few years now, I’ve been paying for usual suspects including both Dropbox and iCloud (I blew past the paltry free space years ago), but what really matters are all the pieces of other clouds for storage and related services. Off the top of my head I’m paying for Evernote Premium, Pinboard, Pressable hosting space for this and other sites, Flickr Pro, Pocket Premium, iTunes Match, Feedly Pro, Freshbooks, Xbox Live, and Playstation Plus. My Google Apps account is grandfathered on a free tier, but technically I should be paying for it, too.

I’m sure I’m missing a couple others, but that’s still a lot of clouds. It’s also a lot of terms of service, redundant storage, login credentials, and points of failure. Could I remove some of this overlap and, of course, save money with alternatives? Could Stache or Safari’s Reading List cover my Pocket Premium and Pinboard needs? Will enough developers follow Greg Pierce’s lead with Drafts 4 and drop their custom sync engines for iCloud (well, technically the new CloudKit), or at least offer iCloud as an option so I might not need to pay for Dropbox? Or, for folks who live and work in other ecosystems and clouds, will enough developers adopt document provider extensions in iOS 8 and OS X to plug in Dropbox, OneDrive, Box, or even something like a Transporter personal cloud for all their storage needs? Maybe Together for iOS and Mac will be a solid Evernote replacement once it makes the transition to Apple’s new CloudKit.

I don’t have a grand insight or solution, just a reality check that is probably good for us all to do sooner than later. The good news is that, with the debut of document provider extensions this fall, the tools and infrastructure will finally be available for iOS and OS X users to build and seek out our own solutions.

[photo by Grant MacDonald]