That’s not to say Apple invented the online audio business or the online data storage business or even the graphical user interface or portable mp3 players. No, Apple’s iCloud is just the latest example of them taking an existing ‘niche’ technology and bringing it to the masses – one of their core skills just as much as the more often quoted industrial design. You can look at almost all Apple’s most successful products and find many antecedents. What Apple does is simplify and make them better.
Online data storage has been around as long as the web itself and there have been many attempts to bring it to the mainstream. Believe me, I’ve tried all of them including Xdrive, Elephant Drive, Windows Live Mesh, Windows Live Sky Drive and latterly Box.net and currently the best of the bunch by a long chalk, Dropbox.
Unfortunately the one thing all these services have in common, even Dropbox, is that the user experience is poor, very poor in most cases. Yes, they work. Sort of. But we really shouldn’t have to work that hard to save and access our documents, photos and music anytime, anywhere. Not now, not in 2011.
What Apple is going to do with the simultaneous launch of iCloud and iOS5 this Autumn is seamlessly sync all your iOS devices so that all your data is available on any device, anywhere at any time and most importantly of all, without the user having to do anything. At all.
Today all iOS devices require a wired connection to iTunes at some point – even if it’s only at set up. From this Autumn all iOS devices become autonomous entities which revolve around your iCloud account.
iCloud comes with 5GB of storage as part of the free package. 5GB might not sound like a lot, but remember that this doesn’t include your music or photos in your photo stream (which stay active for 30 days). Upgrades start at £14 a year for 10GB and top out at £70 a year for 50GB.
Given that music and photos don’t count against your free 5GB most people won’t need to upgrade and iCloud will just be there. Apple will take all the crap away and leave the basics. No effort required. As the hype goes: It will just work.