The Apple iCloud is a space online where all of your files, photos, music, events, apps, and information can be stored and then accessed by any device anywhere in the world. The iCloud is like your hard drive in the sky.
Link to Apple’s information page about Apple iCloud.
With Apple iCloud, you can access your documents, music, photos, and apps from your computer (both Mac and PC) as well as your smart phone, iPad/tablet, or any other device with internet web browsing capability. This is truly the direction where computers are going in the future.
What does this mean for the technology industry?
Because of technology like iCloud, computers don’t need to have a lot of hard drive space. Since you don’t have to store your files on your local hard drive anymore, all of your information is stored in the iCloud and can be accessed at anytime whenever you have an internet connection. Since just about every device will have a reliable connection to the internet soon, this will become the norm very quickly.
Is it really free?
Apple announced that the iCloud will be available in the Fall of 2011 and that it would be free. It cost Apple about $1 billion to build the infrastructure and the datacenter for iCloud to be possible. When you sign up for an iCloud account, you will get a 5 GB space in which to store anything you want. I believe that this is where Apple will really be able to make their money back since it’s very easy to burn through 5 GB of space when it comes to storing photos and music online. There is stiff competition however that may drive prices for extra space down. The Amazon Cloud Drive was released well before the Apple iCloud and Google has been using Google Docs as an online repository for a couple years now. There may very well be a bidding war over the price of online storage space very soon as we see hard drives disappear off of retail shelves.
Is iCloud a ploy to get us to purchase more from iTunes?
At first glance the iCloud sounds like a dream come true. Not having to bother with wondering where you saved something, which device its on or whether you sync’d your iphone this morning. But upon further inspection, this may be another way that Apple is trying to make everyone purchase through the iTunes Store. If you take a closer look at the way the iCloud works, many of the sources of content that will end up in the iCloud come from being purchased through the iTunes Store. In addition, Apple says that the iCloud content will be available on PC machines as well as Macs but the fine print clearly says that some content will be exclusively for iOS devices. Apple has had a history of incompatibility with other data streams and this may be no exception. This may be just speculation and Apple may blossom as the generous type but as track records go, this seems to be right down the line with encouraging Apple market segment domination.
iCloud Data Backup
I am excited about the Data Backup that is included with the iCloud technology. The iCloud backs up your purchased music, apps, and books, photos and videos in the Camera Roll, device settings, app data, home screen and app organization, text messages and MMS messages, and ringtones. This may cause a huge hit to 3rd party backup services that charge monthly or annual fees for doing this very same thing. I’ll give this a big thumbs up in the Apple corner.
What does iCloud mean for my Business?
Since everything exists on a cloud and not on local hard drives, it gives businesses peace of mind that when one device or computer dies, the information does not die with it. This has been a big issue with the corporate environment and in the past great pains have been taken to upload everything to services like SharePoint and other corporate sharing environments. This becomes less needful now that you don’t have to worry about information being lost. Since the data is stored using Apple algorithms, search for documents and information becomes much easier since Apple’s Spotlight search works so much faster than the PC search functions.
iCloud is Coming Fall 2011
Apple will notify you when iCloud is available. Go to Notify Me and enter your email address to get updates on when iCloud is ready.