This post is so incredibly spot-on it hurts.
There are really two types of files. There are files that are private and there are files you don’t care about. No one wants to save their company’s word and excel docs in a vague cloud you’re not quite sure you’ll ever get the files back from because of the security concerns. Not to mention people won’t understand what happened. Where did the file go? I don’t see it? Oh no my file is gone! How do I get it back? I have to search? Why isn’t it on the computer? etc.
The other files are.. well.. just random stuff. They’re photos of your summer vacation, photos that are already on facebook and flickr because you wanted to share them. They’re mp3s you bought *cough*, but those are already synced between your computer and your ipod and maybe you’ve even moved past files and use something like deezer or, if you’re american, pandora to get your music fill.
And what other media do you really want? Most of it is probably on youtube unless it’s a full movie or tv episode in which case you can probably get it off a torrent or an flv streaming site. Soon enough (if the stupid media industry ever wakes up) it’ll be cheaply available on-demand.
So what’s really left to back up? I’m an outlying case because I have source code files I want to keep but even then I have a subversion server running on my pc and I can check my code into google code (or sourceforge if you prefer or any hosted service if you prefer to keep your code closed source) whenever I want.
I think Joel makes a very compelling point that it’s a service we just don’t need. It’s something we will hopefully very soon be taking for granted. Something every developer will have to deal with if they expect their app to get any sort of market traction. The app will have to work on the web, on the phone, offline, etc. If it doesn’t people will instead scratch their head and go for another that’s maybe not as good but provides what people will by then consider basic features. An actual service to do this for consumers just won’t work.
Of course it’s really only partly aimed at consumers. It’s mostly aimed at developers. I suppose it’s another try to control the API developers mainly write code with but it’s not going to work. No one trusts Microsoft. While some people might have their reservations and go ahead anyway because they consider the platform to be better, it certainly won’t be the majority. The vast majority will say no thanks I’ll develop my app on my own. Then I’ll add in some backend “cloud” features. (Which really isn’t hard.) Then I’ll make a mobile version that works with my “cloud”. Then I’ll know my stack up and down and be able to fix any problem that comes up (provided I’m competent enough) and won’t be dependent on the good graces of any other company, especially one that has proven itself to, time and time again, have very little grace.