Cloud Engines’ PogoPlug product brings the cloud to the home

Published: September 29th, 2010

Cloud Engines Inc. is bringing the private cloud into the home with its PogoPlug product. With a one-year old distribution partnership with D&H Canada and Canadian retailers, the company’s vice-president of sales and marketing, Jeff Fochtman, said the company is quickly making a name for itself.

“I like to refer to Cloud Engines as the biggest little brand that’s out there,” Fochtman said. “We’re based in San Francisco, we’re a team of 20 people and we have satellite locations too. We’re all over North America, we have full coverage in Europe and we’re also selling in Australia.”

The company was founded three years ago and announced its PogoPlug product at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas last January. Three months later, the product went on sale on Cloud Engines’ Web site. Fochtman said since the company decided to offer the product through the channel towards the end of last year it has been well-received.

In Canada, the PogoPlug product is available exclusively through distributor D&H Canada and through retailers including London Drugs, The Source, Tiger Direct and Office Depot. By mid-October, the PogoPlug product will also be available at Best Buy.

“Our focus is on selling through partners,” Fochtman said. “Once we get fully distributed, I’d expect five to eight per cent of our sales to come direct from our online site. The idea with PogoPlug is that if you want always-on, anywhere access to more content than you can carry on your computer, there’s one of two ways to do it. One, spend money to house it in the cloud using another provider, which can get expensive with annual fees. Or two, buy some sort of home media server or NAS (network-attached storage) product that requires technical expertise. We’re somewhere in the middle and have a solution for the home, with the value of having just a one-time hardware payment of $99.”

Channel partners can make double-digit range margins on the product, Fochtman added.

“We think we have the right partners now,” Fochtman said. “Now it’s about awareness and we’ll drive this through our retail partners by using their marketing vehicles. We’ll also look to expand our hardware SKUs to target specific user groups within the consumer space.”

PogoPlug is a hardware product that allows users to share content from their home PC. It can be used in a home office setting and can connect up to four external hard drives via its USB ports. Once PogoPlug is installed and activated, users can view, download and upload files from their home computer using any Web-enabled computer or other mobile device.

The product is designed for mobile device and digital storage enthusiasts, Fochtman said. For businesses, the company also has its PogoPlug Biz solution available for small to mid-size business (SMB) customers. Ideal vertical market segments for PogoPlug Biz include those in the creative professional, photography and medical spaces, he said. Fochtman said PogoPlug installs in 60 seconds. One of the primary benefits of the product is that once the device is purchased, the service and all of the complementary applications are free.

One application for the desktop makes the drives look like they’re local on whichever machine the user happens to be at. There are also mobile device applications available for the iPhone, iPad, Android, BlackBerry and Palm products.

PogoPlug is designed to enable users to become their own cloud service provider of sorts, the company claims.

“Security and privacy is never an issue because the content always stays on the hard drive at the user’s home and the user interface is designed so users can manage what content they choose to share,” Fochtman said. “Also, since the user just pays for the PogoPlug product once, he or she doesn’t have to pay for space because it’s all dependent on their external hard drive’s storage capacities.”

Most recently, Cloud Engines introduced an added print functionality, available as a free firmware upgrade to PogoPlug. This allows users to connect their PogoPlug device to an HP or Epson printer so they can print. There are plans to add more branded printers in the future, Fochtman said.

Both PogoPlug and PogoPlug Biz are now available, however PogoPlug is the only SKU currently sold through the channel. PogoPlug Biz is $299 and is available online only. It will be made available to the channel next year, Fochtman said.

Follow Maxine Cheung on Twitter: @MaxineCheungCDN.


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