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Storage Wars: Can Decentralized Cloud Companies Rival Big Tech? (Updated)
Update: Since publication Arweave has taken off like a rocket on little news and Akash is up double-digits. These types of short-term price movements don't necessarily mean there's greater adoption, or major partnerships. Will have to wait and see if this interest holds beyond the short-term. . .
Filecoin, a decentralized blockchain storage company, had its day in the sun when it hit an ATH of $125 (it's lost nearly half that value since). Recently announced partnerships, including Chainlink and earlier with microcap VideoCoin, have failed to sustain its rapid rise despite being the #1 decentralized storage company (and 24th largest crypto) by market cap.
Blockchain competitors include Arweave, Sia, Storj, and Akash Network (listed in descending order by current market cap). These user-hosted nodes for file storage, in principle, seems like a good use of the blockchain with privacy, permanence, and low cost its major features. However, personal cloud service providers like Apple iCloud ($3 mth/200GB, $10 mth/2TB), and GoogleCloud ($2 mth/100GB, $10mth/2TB) are much easier to use at present.
Commercially-focused services like Amazon also provide much more in associated services (advanced analytics, web hosting, and e-commerce) that blockchain rivals, despite being potentially cheaper, currently offer. For corporate IT managers, that may pose significant integration issues that have their own associated costs.
Will blockchain pioneers be able to compete longer term as hard drive prices continue to decline (1TB of storage has dropped to around USD $40) making personal backups very inexpensive. While that doesn't offer the permanence of blockchain distributed storage, it is inexpensive and can be encrypted locally.
Desktop integration (potentially browser-based) would make personal adoption more attractive. They'll need to have easy drop-and-drag functionality for people to actively store and retrieve in as user-friendly a way as possible.
Commercial uptake would need to include additional services to be competitive with what big tech already offers. These companies are also up against a tech culture barriers where IT managers prefer to have as much control over their information as possible. Convincing them that distributed storage is as safe, efficient, and easy to maintain as using a major vendor like Amazon or Google will take serious effort and marketing budget.
These firms could also end up as buy-out targets of mainstream companies looking to diversify into blockchain. Look for partnerships and mergers going forward as signs that the decentralized storage market is maturing.