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The Excitement & Expectation For Apple's New Domai

And what of existing video streaming services? Video is an increasingly key part of Apple media sales, but it will have to deal with everyone from online king YouTube to industry stalwarts Virgin and Sky, bright start ups like LoveFilm and all the terrestrial heavyweights worldwide, including the mighty BBC iPlayer.

When it comes to Cloud synchronisation it gets little easier. Google Android has always operated in the Cloud, RIM's BlackBerry Protect offers a full Cloud backup and data restoration and even Windows Phone and HP's webOS have integrated Cloud syncing. Of course this isn't entirely fair. Apple has long had MobileMe. While long derided, the premium service does Cloud sync email, contacts, calendar, photos and files and can locate, lock and remote wipe your handset with its Find My Phone functionality. Still the prime reason behind Apple's sluggishness is the company's biggest strength: iTunes.

In March we explained Why Apple Runs Shy of the Cloud and the short answer is iTunes. The software is the backbone of Apple's iDevices and its role as a hub for media purchases, synchronisation and backup has both attracted new customers and locked in existing ones. But its power is fading and the flaw is clear. Forcing mobile devices to be physically tethered to PCs makes little sense, especially when one of those products – the iPad – is meant to be a potential PC replacement for casual users.

All of which brings us back to iCloud. Whatever can Apple do to reshape a business model that defines it, yet also threatens to age it? The first hints are coming. Over the weekend Consomac.fr spotted 'Castle', a codename within the developer preview of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. Castle is believed to be a service which ports user data from MobileMe. And why ready a porting programme if you don't have something bigger, better and – what is more – entirely new to tempt customers in the first place?

There is further reason to be excited. Earlier this year Apple confirmed it was ready to open a new $1bn 505,000-square-foot data centre in North Carolina. This is 5x the size of its old Newark facility, which cost just $50m in 2006. This doesn't sound like the gesture of a company thinking small.

All of which leaves us with the unanswerable question: Will Apple get its cloud service right? There is an obtuse answer: it has to…

Update: As if it had just read our feature, Spotify further increased the pressure on an Apple streaming service today with an update that allows it to sync music with iPods. Game on.


May 4, 2011, 4:44 pm

"Forcing mobile devices to be physically tethered to PCs makes little sense"

Sorry but I'm not entirely sure that's accurate. There's a couple of REALLY good reasons to have a physical link to iTunes (albeit in addition to a cloud service would be ideal). Firstly the initial sync to the device tends to be double digit gigabytes and the thought of doing that over a wireless link is not one to inspire joy.

Secondly having a local copy of your media is probably a good thing on the whole. Then there's bandwidth issues to consider, especially for homes with multiple devices. Right now, for instance, we've got a Mac running iTunes and pulling down podcasts and other content that can then be loaded straight on to iPhones and iPads. One download, multiple devices.

Again, not saying that cloud services wouldn't be nice but I honestly think those racing to cut the cable might be in for a nasty shock if that option goes away entirely. Where I'm really interested in seeing Apple move forward with regards the cloud is file management. Looking at what's coming up in Lion, AirDrop in particular, and it seems fairly likely that this is one area that Apple are likely to make a big step forward.


May 4, 2011, 11:32 pm

Ahhh couldn't miss yet another cloudgasm article from TR.

"Apple is years behind when it comes to Cloud computing."

Is that with our without MobileMe? Did you just remember it on the second page?

If you mean the media streaming market isn't it such a big well established market already. Oh wait actually it isn't and most players have either closed down (like you said) or are being more and more restricted every day (Spotify) or may just be acting plainly illegally (Amazon).

"Google Android has always operated in the Cloud"

Oh so can I sync my music over the cloud on Android then? Oh no I can't.

Not sure how the Spotify announcement is any relevant to a cloud discussion, since the sync is done over local Wifi.

The rest of the points were already well covered by BOFH UK.

TR get your facts correct and fix your website, stop dreaming about cloud lala land.


May 5, 2011, 1:28 am

So...Google's been developing and working on the cloud thing for a while now but seems to get rather ambivalent press. Now we have the possibility of iCloud and someone at TR pops a ball sack. Why the big deal? They are behind the curve!

Next, we'll be told the whole cloud thing was Apple's idea in the first place.


May 5, 2011, 2:09 am

I read it more as you are forced to use physical tethering as the only option. Like you said there are definitely some benefits but for day to day syncing I'd love to be able to update my iPod Touch via WiFi. The option to choose would be amazing, if very unApple like.

I don't know the figures but I'd guess that Mobile Me is a niche service. None of my many iPhone loving friends use it, indeed most use Gmail. The webapps aren't that impresssive either.


May 5, 2011, 5:01 am

You're missing the point BOFH UK. The key is in the word "forcing". I'm not saying tethering a device shouldn't be an option, it should. But to make it impossible for a mobile device to live without being regularly tethered to a computer is daft.


May 5, 2011, 5:05 am

Gk.pm you state no facts of value. What you are stating is opinion.

Spotify syncs music both with and without WiFi and requires no tethering. Playlists are automatically synchronised between desktop and phone.

This certainly isn't a 'Cloudgasm' and I'm looking forward to seeing what Apple unveils this year. 'Cloud lala land'? Let's see who is right over the next 12 months...


May 5, 2011, 5:08 am

Interesting to see your reaction. Other comments interpreted this as a negative article on Apple. You see it as a love in.

Truth is it is both. Apple deserves criticism for being behind, yet we are excited to see what it does come up with now things are clearly ramping up.

I beat you to your last line. The last line of my March feature: Why Apple Runs Shy of the Cloud stated:

"Sadly Tuesday was another example of Apple trying to delay the inevitable and squeeze every last drop out of its existing business model. The good news is Apple will eventually make the leap. It has to. The bad news is when it does we'll be told Apple invented the concept and urged to embrace the 'iCloud'…"

So at least we're thinking along similar lines.


May 5, 2011, 3:27 pm

What do you mean by niche service? It was out there (apparently they stopped selling it 2 months or so ago) for anyone to use, easy to purchase online or even in many stores.

The webapps are too flashy which drags the interface down a bit (like TR) but at least they don't bombard you with ads which seem to have read your email unlike the free alternatives. I also still prefer iDisk over Dropbox for example.

In any case webapps on browsers are not cloud services, so any comments on their quality are immaterial to my point that Apple was already running a quite complete "cloud" service since at least 2008.

Apple even had general cloud storage with iDisk well before 2008, while Google never got their fabled gDrive thing off the ground having only launched a very limited solution in the middle of last year which only works inside Google Docs.


May 6, 2011, 1:03 am

By niche I meant relatively small userbase.

Not having ads is definitely nice but would you really expect anything less when paying a fee? I think Google miss a trick by not offering paid for ad free services or is our data that valuable?

I haven't used iDisk so can't comment but love Dropbox as it works across so many platforms. And it's free!

To get the best out of Mobile Me you really need a Mac which is quite a kick in the face to the majority of iOS users who are PC users.

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