Cloudike is a cloud interface system that enables mobile carriers and device OEMs to extend their own ecosystem under their own brand and without having to invest in years of R&D. CEO Maxim Azarov discusses how it can empower businesses and individuals to get access to privately deployed file syncing without the need for long development cycles.
Could you tell me a little about Cloudike?
Maxim Azarov: Cloudike was started in 2012 with the mission to bring a high-quality personal cloud solution to the white-label market. Its aim was to address the high cost of white-label platforms and their product inferiority compared with over-the-top (OTT) service leaders - which, at that time, was Dropbox.
To achieve this goal, we put together a team of product expects from Google and LG, as well as business strategy expertise from Accenture. Our company enjoys robust growth, with six locations across the world, and a roster of clients and partners consisting of LG Electronics, Korea Telecom, Vodafone, Huawei, MegaFon, Rostelecom, Softbank and Vestel Electronics.
How does the solution work?
Cloudike allows mobile subscribers to achieve three main objectives: back up their personal data, sync it between multiple devices and share it with other subscribers. The service works in a very similar way to iCloud for Apple devices, but it's branded and fully controlled by the mobile carrier.
What is your strategic rationale for a carrier-provided personal cloud service as opposed to OTT service partnerships?
Mobile carriers want to find attractive formulae for service bundles in a data-driven 4G world. If a carrier wants to charge a premium price for data access, it has to provide a service bundle as opposed to a stripped wireless data plan.
The emerging consensus is that the winning 4G service bundle of the future must contain the following elements:
- a 4G data plan
- next-gen voice calling services, such as VoLTE, video and enhanced caller-ID
- next-gen messaging services - an RCS-based alternative to OTT, such as WhatsApp, for example
- mobile back-up and personal cloud service.
Vodafone is a good example with a 4G package consisting of a data plan, Call+, Message+ and Backup+ services, all under the Vodafone brand. At the moment, Cloudike focuses on the last piece of the service package and aims to provide a high-quality platform at a fraction of the cost of our competitors' alternatives. Vodafone Backup+ is using Cloudike technology in select markets.
What role do these services play in terms of cost guidance and monetisation strategies?
The back-up service can be used as an effective tool for upselling customers to higher-data-plan packages. With data package inflation, it gets increasingly difficult to move customers up the plan ladder.
Because personal cloud usage is accumulating over time - as opposed to data use, which resets every billing period - bundling of a personal cloud allows you to start upselling customers who never reach their data limit but go over their back-up limit. Another monetisation effect, which comes from the sticky nature of personal cloud services, is additional churn reduction.
What would you say is the established best practice when it comes to the promotion of personal-cloud services?
The single and most effective way to promote a personal cloud service is pre-installing it on carrier-controller devices. We see that up to 75% of device owners try the service when it's pre-installed.
Another effective tactic is in-store and promotion-based techniques timed to coincide with certain user actions, such as the activation of a new data plan. You have to catch the consumer in a receptive state of mind, when they are ready to try something new, and the purchase of new phone or new service plan happens to be just such a time.
Could you talk a little about integration with RCS - and messaging more broadly?
Messaging services and personal cloud storage are natural candidates for tight integration. Consumers often share their personal photos and videos via messaging but, once these photos are received, there's a need to back them up in long-term private storage to ensure these personal moments are available years later. This is where a personal cloud excels. This common use case underscores the need for messaging and the personal cloud to integrate tightly in order to provide a fluent, cohesive user experience.