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Why Apple Runs Scared of MobileMe

Likewise MobileMe is actually a significant threat to Apple's other key business model: desktop syncing. Experts will claim that the success of the iPod, iPhone and iPad are all down to the iTunes ecosystem. One piece of software which ties everything together. The reality is it is Apple's ability to physically tether these otherwise portable devices to a desktop piece of software that is the real killer. Your app and music purchases are lost unless you sync with iTunes, your data is lost unless you backup with iTunes.

By contrast the ultimate role of a fully realised MobileMe is to unhook customers from iTunes. To sync and backup data in the Cloud and give complete independence from the very system which currently locks Apple customers down. No wonder it is reticent. It won't even implement a wireless iTunes sync in case it starts the masses asking questions.

This is where Google has a distinct advantage: as a much younger, Internet-based company it has never had a desktop product to tie its customers down so it has no inhibition in embracing Cloud-based surfaces. In fact Google knows they are its primary differentiator. Look at the recent Gmail problems. Even when user data was lost it was backed up across multiple servers and ultimately restored. Had the same happened to your iTunes software you'd be stuffed.

Consequently the challenge for Apple is in accepting it has to rip up the successful business model of the past if it wants to create a successful business model for the future. New hardware is always a pretty distraction, but the company must realise the success of the iPad has been down to its widespread adoption by developers and the ingenuity they have shown in creating apps with distinct large screen advantages. At just 8.8mm thick, as a piece of hardware, the iPad 2 is more like a giant iPod touch than ever before.

Consequently software remains king, but as rival platforms become ever more polished and hardware ever more competitive the emerging differentiator is services and these services need to be based in the Cloud. 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 will be told Apple invented the concept and told to embrace the 'iCloud'…

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