The growing popularity of personal cloud services is set to see the technology eclipse PCs as the primary hub for consumers’ digital lives in the next few years.

This is according to a study by Gartner, which predicted these services will be central to many people’s computing activities by 2014.

Such facilities could allow users to share content seamlessly between a wide range of devices and offer many applications. For example, a person could access photos stored on the cloud from any gadget before using ink supplies to print a hard copy.

Research director at Gartner Michael Gartenberg explained the cloud “isn’t a single offering, but a reflection of consumers’ expectation that their content will flow seamlessly” as a result of a combination of several services.

One of the key areas for growth highlighted by the company was in improving mobility.

It observed the evolution of these platforms is allowing consumers to access relevant information on their favourite device, regardless of where they are.

“In real time, consumers are now able to store, synchronise, share and stream in ways not previously imagined,” the firm said.

As a result of the surge in popularity of such solutions, there will be a significant opportunities for technology companies to improve their services in the area.

At the moment, Gartner noted there is no one dominant cloud provider, with organisations such as Microsoft, Google, Apple and Amazon all competing to claim areas of the ecosystem, along with a number of smaller firms.

Last month, Google unveiled its Drive service, which offers 5GB of free storage and a variety of paid options for those who need additional capacity.

However, the current landscape is resulting in a great deal of confusion among individuals currently about what the cloud can offer to them, Mr Gartenberg said.

He observed: “This will not be helped by many vendors continuing to equate personal cloud services simply with online storage and neglecting their additional features and potential.”

Therefore, it will be important for companies to communicate to consumers exactly what they can expect to gain from using cloud services.