Wozniak: Cloud Computing Will Cause “Horrible Problems”

Steve WozniakApple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak (via AFP)

Cloud-based computing will experience “horrible problems” in the coming years, according to comments made Saturday by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Issues surrounding security and content ownership will create a “horrendous” atmosphere for users over the next five years, the tech icon predicted.

Mr. Wozniak made his comments following a performance of notorious monologist Mike Daisey’s one-man show “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” in Washington, D.C. Saturday, according to AFP. The Apple co-founder joined Mr. Daisey on stage for a post-performance dialogue with audience members.

“I really worry about everything going to the cloud,” Mr. Wozniak told the audience. “I think it’s going to be horrendous. I think there are going to be a lot of horrible problems in the next five years. With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away.”

Most cloud-based services have lengthy and onerous license agreements that very few businesses and consumers read or understand in their entirety. As a result, cloud services are often controlled by terms and conditions that limit a user’s right of control and access or give the cloud service certain rights over the user’s own data.

While many tech-savvy users recognize that such licensing agreements may be a necessary trade-off for the benefits of data and services in the cloud, many average users may soon realize that switching to a cloud-based option sacrificed more control and ownership than they were willing to give.

“I want to feel that I own things,” Mr. Wozniak said. “A lot of people feel, ‘Oh, everything is really on my computer,’ but I say the more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it.”

Apple has offered “cloud-based” services dating back to the company’s introduction of iTools in 2000. That service has subsequently evolved from .Mac (2002 - 2008) to MobileMe (2008 - 2011) to Apple’s most ambitious cloud offering, iCloud, launched last fall. Unlike many other cloud services, iCloud focuses more on syncing music, documents, and photos between devices as opposed to permanently storing those items on Apple’s servers.

[Teaser graphic via Shutterstock]