Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Apple Announces iCloud Storage Service

I saw this news story this morning on the TV news, and wanted to delve into it. From CNet News:

Apple CEO Steve Jobs today announced an online cloud storage service called iCloud that's designed to make it simple to wirelessly share music, e-mail, photos, calendars, and other data between handheld gadgets and desktop computers.

The new Apple service, which has been the subject of intense speculation for more than a year, attempts to harness the power and flexibility of cloud computing for home users. It uses techniques that have already proved popular with businesses to make it easier to move data stored on Apple's servers back and forth between multiple devices and applications.

Jobs introduced iCloud this morning at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco as part of a broader announcement that also highlighted the forthcoming version of Mac OS X Lion, available in July for $29.99, and new features for iOS including a newsstand and tabbed browsing on the iPad.

iCloud represents a direct challenge to Google's cloud-based offerings, which already use services like Gmail, Calendar, Picasa, and Google Docs to let users see and edit the same document or photo across multiple devices. In addition, Google recently announced Google Music and, in March, Amazon.com unveiled Amazon Cloud Drive.

I'm starting to wonder if Apple is a little late on their introduction to cloud computing. There is a wide range of cloud computing services for consumer to choose from. A perfect example is internet-based photo sharing, such as Google's Picasa, Photobucket, and Flickr. Businesses can develop their own email and marketing campaigns through Constant Contact,and you can back up your computer hard drive's data files through Carbonite. There are a ton of free email services with Yahoo, Google, Hotmail, AOL, and such. This is just what I can remember off the top of my head--I'm sure there are many other cloud-based services out there for computers, netbooks, touch-pad computers, and smart phones.

However, this next paragraph really struck me:

About 10 years ago, Jobs said, Apple experienced one of its most important insights: The PC would become the digital hub for your digital life and store photos, video, and music, which would in turn be synchronized with mobile devices plugged in to it. Now, he said, his company is at a similar turning point, where iCloud can store data and wirelessly push it to every device you own.

I think Steve Jobs saw the light a little late here. Jobs may have believed that the PC would first be the digital hub for your digital life, with storing photos, music, and video. Apple concentrated into selling its operating system to really organize your digital life around the computer. But the combined rise of smart phones and social networking threw a monkey wrench at Jobs--you can't access your iTunes or digital photos on your smart phone when you're away from your computer. So Jobs is shifting Apple's attention towards this bigger market of cloud computing, where you can purchase your iTunes at the Apple Store, and then store them on Apple's cloud servers to access them from your iPhone and your iPad. I'm sure Apple will also provide a digital photo sharing program (if they do not already have one). Will Apple allow developers to write applications to their mobile operating system, as we see with Google's Android? It will be interesting to see how Apple develops its iCloud system here, considering how successful they have been with their iTunes, iPhone, and iPad technology.

Then again, Google is not going to sit around and wait for Apple to catch up, as they are introducing their own Google Music to compete with Apples iTunes. The cloud computing world has just gotten a lot more competitive for consumers' dollars to go up in the clouds....


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