Technology experts think that the new iCloud service puts Apple at ahead of it’s rivals- and is likely to encourage even bigger useage of Apple devices.
Cloud based consumer data services are not be new, but the iCloud service Apple announced this week is a major step towards.
Returning from sick leave for the string of announcements at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference, chief executive Steve Jobs made the most significant statement of the night: “We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device – just like an iPad, an iPhone or an iPod Touch. We’re going to move the hub of your digital life to the cloud.”
Apple commentator John Gruber said that “demotion” of the Mac will come to define a new era for Apple.
“iCloud will shape the next 10 years the way the iTunes-on-your-Mac/PC digital hub shaped the last 10,” he wrote.
“This is a fundamentally different vision for the coming decade than Google’s. In both cases, your data is in the cloud, and you can access it from anywhere with a network connection. But Google’s vision is about software you run in a web browser. Apple’s is about native apps you run on devices. Apple is as committed to native apps – on the desktop, tablet, and handheld – as it has ever been.”
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster said the move will encourage consumers to stay within Apple’s ecosystem of gadgets, from phones to desktop computers. “Apple is increasing the likelihood that consumers buy multiple Apple devices,” he told clients.
“What’s new is that Apple will be giving away iCloud for free (we had expected it to be priced between $25-$99 a year). This will allow Apple devices to automatically share contacts, calendars, messages, photos, apps, and music purchased on iTunes; sharing non iTunes music will cost $25 a year.”
Munster compared that the Amazon’s Cloud Drive, which could cost up to $200 a year.
For Apple’s rivals, iCloud presents a major challenge. Google started offering cloud-based services to the mainstream through its Gmail service in 2004, but Apple’s third and soon-to-be-opened data centre in North Carolina puts it ahead, said Forrester analyst Frank Gillett.
“Google is worth watching as a number two player but will struggle to match Apple. Microsoft, with no articulated vision for personal cloud, lags significantly.”