Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

Summary: Apple is late to the cloud party, but has the integration, interface and pricing (free) to disrupt the so-called personal cloud market.

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TOPICS: Hardware, Apple, Mobility
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Apple has launched its cloud volley with a triple threat connecting its Mac OS X, its iOS and iCloud, a music service, document sharing and a bridge to a hosted iTunes that is expected to "just work" automatically.

The iCloud effort will be run from Apple's three data centers, including one in Maiden, N.C. that cost $500 million to build. These cloud services will be free---except for iTunes Match, which will cost $24.99 a year.

In a nutshell, apps, music, photos and documents will be synchronized in what Apple CEO Steve Jobs noted was the post PC way of doing things. The PC served as a hub of digital content for a decade, but is now played out. Jobs said that the Mac and PC is just another device now.

If all this sounds vaguely familiar that's because this cloud vision has been laid out before---repeatedly. Google has its Docs, Music and sharing services. Microsoft has Docs covered when Office 365 launches later this month. Amazon also has multiple cloud efforts. Toss in Dropbox and a bevy of other services and Monday's keynote at its WWDC forum was really a big game of cloud catch-up.

It's easy to dismiss Apple's iCloud on topics like documents. The music service could be big. However, critics will quickly note that there's a lot of me-too in the iCloud. What Apple brings to the table is integration, ease of use and an established customer base. Apple appears to be late to the cloud game, but that's not really the case.

Forrester on Monday released a report on the so-called personal cloud market. The upshot is that personal clouds will generate $12 billion in revenue by 2016 ($6 billion direct). Apple isn't sweating that market too much---iCloud is free---but will be happy to sell you all the devices connected to its data centers.

According to Forrester, 28 percent of all online U.S. adults use a personal cloud service and 41 percent of them use these efforts at work. That leaves a lot of room for Apple to grab share.

The initial reaction from Forrester was that iCloud will win consumers over with free, utility and product experience. Analyst Charles Colvin may have a point, but I can't help but think that MobileMe and .Mac didn't turn out so well.

In other words, let's wait until the iCloud launches before the victory lap begins.

The reliability game

Perhaps the best move from Apple was the iCloud pricing. It's free. The other side effect from that pricing is that no one will scream if the service stumbles.

As noted before, the big wild-card with Apple's cloud foray is whether it can follow the outage playbook, which revolves around dashboards, transparency and dealing with customers in real-time. Some of those concerns go away when a service is free---you get what you pay for.

Of course, that fact doesn't mean that Apple can go down for days, but you'll be a little more tolerant of glitches for a freebie. Apple's iTunes Match service, which costs you $24.99 a year, however, may be a different story, but that price point won't kill anyone either.

With great pricing, Apple's iCloud effort puts reliability worrywarts on mute and ensures that it has a platform for the next generation of consumers.

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32 comments
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  • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

    Looks more like a me-too stuff ,but will be a good thing for apple product users. But still a long way to go for the functionalites offered by Live-Mesh/Skydrive...
    owlnet
    • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

      @owlnet

      Skydrive?

      The "me too" iDisk?

      You know iDisk, which Apple launched in 2000.
      bannedagain
  • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

    Me too?? The difference is Apple's iCloud is totally integrated. Did you see even bother to look at the API? All the apps can integrate with iCloud and various devices are sync'ed automatically with the iCloud. Google, MSFT and others force you to login via browser. Apple gives you the option - to use the Apps or go via browser. It is what a cloud should be, though I wish their browser offerings were not so lame!
    browser.
    • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

      @browser.
      Try Live Mesh, your photos and folders can be synced across many devices automatically to the skydrive. Even allows multi-monitor remote desk.
      owlnet
    • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

      @browser. What Android device have you been using? All of the cloud apps on Android sync from the app. Picasa is baked into Android. Doc...the new Music Beta...all baked in. When have you been logging in through websites?
      storm14k
  • Just for grins.....

    ...compare Steve Jobs' 7-minute explanation of "the cloud" with ANYTHING that has ever come out of Microsoft or Google. Remember those cluttered, complicated "cloud diagrams" that Bill Gates came up with to try to explain things? Which approach do you think will make people want to go out and buy multiple products that are synched automatically through the cloud? Yeah, everybody's clouds all do the same thing (more or less). But Apple puts it in a way that most people can understand. Marketing is important, folks, and Apple does it well.
    Userama
    • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

      @Userama

      Well, XBOX Live is a cloud computing solution, as is Mesh, Skydrive etc. and I never needed any of it explained to me, my wife or my son, they all just work and provide a seamless experience. Throw in the Zune marketplace for music and Microsoft has had this nailed for YEARS before toay.
      omdguy
      • Nailed

        @omdguy

        Just like they had smart phones and tablets nailed?
        jaypeg
      • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

        @omdguy But it never caught on. People just aren't interested in MS. I don't think people even use their Xbox to the fullest. They only go online to play games and forget all the other integration outside of Netflix now.
        storm14k
      • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

        @storm14k I think you are wrong, I know several XBox people userse that use it beyond a game console including streaming music, pictures and videos with WMC
        ItsTheBottomLine
    • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

      @Userama Looking at the sales stats over the last year I'd say people are quite fine with the way Google has been doing it. Google doesn't have to market it because the devices just do it right out of the box. It has become synonymous with Android. Your emails, contacts apps...just about everything works from the cloud. For Apple this is an add on and they have to market it for people to understand it. For Google this has been business from the get go and people just expect it whether they know its the cloud or not. If anything Apple just makes it more confusing.
      storm14k
      • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

        @storm14k Your confused by iCloud?
        non-biased
  • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

    Ubuntu One beat them all there with the total package. The fact they were Ubuntu only and the terrible pricing plan doomed them to go nowhere fast.
    30otnix
  • The amount of people who aren't getting it is amazing.

    I guess the word "cloud" produces a pavlovian response in them and gets them in a certain mindset.

    Apple's iCloud is about SYNCING devices, NOT storing information. The cloud is used to MOVE data, not HOLD it.

    But, predictably, everyone is accusing Apple of playing catch up. Then in six months, we'll start seeing Microsoft talking about how Windows 8 lets you keep your PCs, phones and tablet in sync. Then Google will come out with a new version of Android that will let you keep your tablets and phones and PCs in sync. Then everyone will start talking about how these solutions are THE iCloud killer.
    fr_gough
    • Yep.

      @fr_gough
      You're right, fr! As with many Apple presentations, the full impact of what's announced takes a while to sink in with consumers---and Wall Street anal-ists as well.
      Userama
    • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

      @fr_gough <br>"Then in six months, we'll start seeing Microsoft talking about how Windows 8 lets you keep your PCs, phones and tablet in sync."<br><br>Microsoft has this today. Sky Drive and Live Mesh. And here's the kicker: you can use this service to EITHER save to the cloud OR simply sync devices/folders. And you're not limited to just music @ docs. You can sync ANYTHING. <br><br>"The cloud" is a ubiquitous term. Cloud servies can be applied in a variety of forms and flavors. MS has one way, Google has their way, Amazon, Apple, etc...<br><br>And by the way, go over Jobs' keynote again. iCloud DOES store your data. But they offer no online access to it, its a temp hold. You have to have some type of "i" platform (idevice or iTunes) to use it. No one else dictates this type of walled approach. You have web portal access to anything you want, including MS!
      reklissrick
      • Sorry but Windows Live Mesh is nothing like iCloud -- it is just about ...

        @rekliss007: ... syncing/storing folders via/on the cloud.<br><br>iCloud offers something totally of another level -- syncing complete media, software, settings environment with no configuration necessary.

        You can not make WLM syncing that since Users folder on W7 desktop machine will be never the same as Users folder on WP7 phone (which may even does not have that folder) or Users folder on the upcoming W8 tablet.
        DDERSSS
      • Nothing like iCouldn't? - good.

        @DerRSSS<br><br>Sky Drive/Mesh in WP7 - Mango update<br>in W8 - already works for both Vista and 7, so 8 is a no-brainer.<br><br>Complete Media? Free for only media that Apple controls. Pay for the rest. And this is only for music, iBooks, Newsstand, iWork, and iApps. No movies, no outside media, (pdfs, tiffs, etc) nothing outside of the realm that Apple has direct control over. No configuration - you're right, this is an "opt-out" service. And people say that MS is monopolistic....

        "Another level"? You're right. The basement.
        reklissrick
      • RE: Can Apple win 'personal cloud' market?

        @DeRSSS -> "...syncing complete media, software, settings environment with no configuration necessary."

        Microsoft has had this for years on Windows, it's called "Roaming profiles". And it's been announced that with Windows 8, it will work with Live accounts.

        Yeah, I know, you need a Live account to make it work on Windows. Well, you need a Mac.com account to make it work with Apple, what's the difference?
        PollyProteus
      • Do you read only selected words? I talked about syncing heterogenous

        @PollyProteus: ... devices such as phones, tablets, PCs. And Apple's iCloud does not require any trips to ".mac" or wherever else -- new users which have no account only asked once to come up with electronic mail address "name@me.com" and password.
        DDERSSS