What the future MIGHT look like:
Google's Servers will host all your files and take over the role of your PC. At home, users will have a very basic and inexpensive computer that communicates with the Google Server (or as they call it "The Cloud"). You run Google's free Operating System which is getting automatic updates and never slows down since all the computing is being done by Google's Server. I would say you save about 100$ per year on hard and software. No more Windows upgrades and the simple computer will last longer as well.
Google positioned itself very well. Step by step.
- Upload your pictures to Picasa
- Upload your Videos to YouTube
- Navigate using Google Maps on your Android phone
- Google Voice can be your phone service
- Share you Documents on Google Documents
- Get your email at GMail
- Get an Android powered phone and basically do the exact same thing you do on your Computer at home anywhere in the world!
I think Google CAN charge a fee for services like YouTube (as it already does for Picasa). If they keep it simple and fast users may be willing to pay a reasonable fee. If you pay $100 a year for all the services including cloud computing (excluding cloud computing using your phone) it's still a very good deal! No hassles and access to all your files whenever you want and where you want. Google's backup system should also be more sophisticated and safer than most of ours (if we have on AT ALL).