Apple, North Carolina and the cloud

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    Posted: 25 February 2011 02:07 PM

    Apple has built a HUGE server farm in North Carolina, and it seems as if Apple is coming close to some type of launch, or announcement.

    I’m interested in hearing from the AFB’ers on their thoughts on what this means to:

    1.  The overall business strategy
    2.  The end user experience - what benefits will end users enjoy?
    3.  How will the cloud benefit AAPL and how big will the monetary impact be?
    4.  Does this have the potential of being another one of those paradigm shifts in the tech world that Apple has become famous for, that will initiate a rush to copycat?  IE - ipod, iphone and ipad…


    I’m thinking that this deal is going to be huge.  I mean - just speaking for myself, I would love to have a central location to access my digital content from any device, anywhere.  Eliminate the need for these enormous local hard drives, and make the process of accessing this stuff simple, even for the layman, as most people are.

    This could be a very BIG deal..

    edited to correct spelling

    [ Edited: 26 February 2011 04:50 PM by Dennyhil ]

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    Posted: 25 February 2011 02:54 PM #1

    It does seem that MobileMe and / or ones iTunes user account is the heart of it.  Hence, I am writing from that viewpoint herein.

    There are 5 kinds of content, sorted according to size

    1. video
    2. apps
    3. music
    4. photos
    5. text (mail, calendars)

    But sorting according to downloading network load, it might be

    1. video
    2. music
    way way ahead of the rest.

    But sorting according to user priority,

    it might be
    1. text
    2. music
    3. apps
    4. video
    5. photos


    End user benefits:  organization + convenience, especially if one has many Mac and iOS devices
    More abstractly (its not abstract to me) trust and reliability (cough:  anti-Google to name one).
    AAPL benefits:  user confidence in Apple

    If the price is low or free, then customers will feel that Apple is not nickel and diming, or worse.

    Overall strategy:  user loyalty. 

    The paradigm shift for me is: convince me to have all of my stuff on the Mobile Me server.  Anything not on server is either a) private b) too large to upload c) or that MobileMe is too expensive.  The cost is the easiest to change.

         
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    Posted: 25 February 2011 04:20 PM #2

    MacNN:  no sign of paying for MobileMe http://www.macnn.com/articles/11/02/25/service.moving.rapidly.towards.new.incarnation/

    I’m guessing that MobileMe could be free by the end of the month, or even day now.

         
  • Posted: 25 February 2011 04:31 PM #3

    Tetrachloride - 25 February 2011 08:20 PM

    MacNN:  no sign of paying for MobileMe http://www.macnn.com/articles/11/02/25/service.moving.rapidly.towards.new.incarnation/

    I’m guessing that MobileMe could be free by the end of the month, or even day now.

    Does that mean I will get a refund!!!???  grin

         
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    Posted: 25 February 2011 04:36 PM #4

    Tetrachloride - 25 February 2011 08:20 PM

    MacNN:  no sign of paying for MobileMe http://www.macnn.com/articles/11/02/25/service.moving.rapidly.towards.new.incarnation/

    I’m guessing that MobileMe could be free by the end of the month, or even day now.

    IF Apple truly makes Mobile Me free of charge to EVERYBODY ...  Wow.. How big would that be? - and the brand loyalty that you talk about will be incredible.  I believe the stock is going to explode when Apple makes a big announcement event out of this…

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    Posted: 26 February 2011 11:45 AM #5

    I keep thinking there is more to this datacenter than everyone is talking about.  Apple already has a datacenter.  They already have MobileMe services and can stream content.  My current MobileMe subscription gives me almost 11GB of storage in the cloud.

    Maybe the current datacenter is completely maxed and this Maiden NC datacenter is just a simple expansion.  But at five times the size of the current Newark CA datacenter and with a $1 Billion pricetag?  I think Apple has something more in mind than just “you can put your content in the cloud and MobileMe is free!”.  There is also talk that the land surrounding the datacenter is owned by Apple and they can build a sister datacenter of the same size right next to the current one.  What is happening that could potentially require 10x the datacenter size of Apple’s current datacenter?  The current datacenter may not be shut down either.  So call it 11x.  Anyone know if Apple owns or leases the current datacenter land?

    Apple wont need to store a separate copy of Hollywood movies for each datacenter customer.  The movie is stored once and can be streamed to many.  So they would need bandwidth but not necessarily so much compute resources to stream Hollywood.  Home movie storage is possible, but again this is a huge datacenter.  Is that all it is?

    What other possibilities are there? 

    * Search to take on Google?
    * Social Networking?
    * Video editing in the Cloud (video editing and encoding can be slow on all but the fastest desktops today)?
    * Something related to a TV created by Apple (tentatively call it the iBall)?
    * Cloud based Time Machine backup?
    * Something targeted towards Enterprise Computing?
    * A Jeopardy challenger for IBMs Watson?  ha

    Clearly I’m running out of ideas, but I think there will be a “One more thing…” type of announcement from Apple on this datacenter.  Something that would require such a large investment in compute resources not just a bunch of disk drives to store content.

         
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    Posted: 26 February 2011 11:57 AM #6

    Without knowing the real financial knock-ons I like the idea of at least parts of MobileMe as a free perk with the purchase of any Apple CPU or are people think of giving MM away to anyone as Google does?

    As Jim Dalrymple pointed out, a simple explanation for the removal of all the paper boxes for MM is that Apple is going to stop selling all their software in paper boxes and switch to selling it in the App Store only. This sounds at least as believable as making MM free and to me, setting anything free is not a very Apple like strategy (find my phone a possible exception), generally Apple monitise everything (FaceTime on the Mac anyone?)! On the positive side, other Apple software when brought into the App Store has gone down in price, another option for MM. $25?/yr.

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    Posted: 26 February 2011 12:19 PM #7

    My take is that Apple plans 5 to 10 years out.  This data center won’t reach it’s full potential until wireless broadband increases significantly over the next 10 years.

    We all know Facebook and Google need lots of space to store their ever-increasing data.  3D real time maps and storing billions of videos and pictures for a billion users will need quite a bit of storage space.

    Apple I think over time will slowly make their own search/map system and get into the Online social network.  It started slowly with Siri and MobileMe and Ping.

    So I think we may have to wait a few years.  In the mean time cloud based services will make use of this, but Thunderbolt technology still is better then cloud when it comes to large file transfer.

    I want MobileMe to be free and marketed more.  Video and picture sharing is so much easier and classier then FB.

         
  • Posted: 26 April 2011 12:58 PM #8

    The Old World Order For film and TV was characterized by Gatekeepers in the form of movie studios, theatre chains and television networks. This oligopoly ensured that only a few chosen producers would be permitted to bring their creations to the mass markets. The barriers to market were and are very high.

    The New World Order, if Apple leads the way, is to allow anyone to become a Producer and a Studio and SELL their offerings to the world markets at prices they see fit. Millions of people already know how to use tools like iMovie and Garageband and a couple hundred million already have Apple accounts. In short, take the YouTube concept to the next level and MONETIZE it. Create a video app store.

    Let the next generation of Spielbergs and Lucas flourish free of the Gatekeepers, reward them with 70% of the cash, and there will be a flood of new content created that will soon dwarf the old content vaults of yesteryear.

    And Apple will collect 30% of everything in return for setting the creative world free of the old gatekeepers.

         
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    Posted: 26 April 2011 01:13 PM #9

    Welcome Grandpabrian! Great first post. This would be totally in line with Apple’s other online stores, and would compete with youtube. Interesting…

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    Posted: 26 April 2011 02:30 PM #10

    Grandpabrian - 26 April 2011 03:58 PM

    The Old World Order For film and TV was characterized by Gatekeepers in the form of movie studios, theatre chains and television networks. This oligopoly ensured that only a few chosen producers would be permitted to bring their creations to the mass markets. The barriers to market were and are very high.

    The New World Order, if Apple leads the way, is to allow anyone to become a Producer and a Studio and SELL their offerings to the world markets at prices they see fit. Millions of people already know how to use tools like iMovie and Garageband and a couple hundred million already have Apple accounts. In short, take the YouTube concept to the next level and MONETIZE it. Create a video app store.

    Let the next generation of Spielbergs and Lucas flourish free of the Gatekeepers, reward them with 70% of the cash, and there will be a flood of new content created that will soon dwarf the old content vaults of yesteryear.

    And Apple will collect 30% of everything in return for setting the creative world free of the old gatekeepers.

    I"ve actually been thinking about this since I read on Gruber’s site that Netflix outbid HBO for the rights to produce a tv series. Then I was thinking about the Sundance festival and then Gruber and Dan Benjamin were talking about why Apple bothered upgrading Final Cut Pro recently (said to be very impressive) Since the content owning companies are so nervous about letting their content out on iTunes I reasoned that Apple should sponsor a massive Independent tv series festival analogous to Sundance’s film festival. Each independent producer would produce a pilot show to be shown at the festival where independent judges would pick the top (pick a number). Then Apple would/should/could sponsor the making of those winning series in exchange for the sole rights to stream the series through iTunes and also own the rights for further seasons. This would have several positive effects including the obvious of getting some high quality content as well as supporting the independent film makers. The same could be done with feature length films, documentaries, etc. It could be a win-win-win situation in that Apple wins content, the smaller independent film people win, Apple’s reputation wins and the current content companies realise that if they don’t pull the plug out they may well go out with the bathwater to horribly mix a metaphor.

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  • Posted: 26 April 2011 04:25 PM #11

    Just a few more thoughts regarding my concept for a Video App Store… The iphone app store proved that Apple could attract hundreds of thousands of developers to their new iOS platform. In return for this overwhelming developer support, Apple has paid out over TWO Billion in cash so far! I myself received enough to buy my New Beetle.

    Nevertheless, I contend that learning Objective C and xcode is a far more difficult challenge than learning how to use iMovie or goofing around with something like Xtranormal. If Apple opened a Video App Store, Millions would participate, not just hundreds of thousands.

    Apple should allow for micro payments as little as ten cents. Imagine if you had a YouTube type hit that attracted a million downloads and you got a dime for each download? That $100,000 could change your life!

    Millions of creations to serve billions of viewers - now that is a game changer for sure.

    Will the world’s most advanced datacenters be used to enable such a sea change? We can only hope so. In the meantime, i am preparing my first series for it.

         
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    Posted: 26 April 2011 05:22 PM #12

    Grandpabrian - 26 April 2011 07:25 PM

    Just a few more thoughts regarding my concept for a Video App Store… The iphone app store proved that Apple could attract hundreds of thousands of developers to their new iOS platform. In return for this overwhelming developer support, Apple has paid out over TWO Billion in cash so far! I myself received enough to buy my New Beetle.

    Nevertheless, I contend that learning Objective C and xcode is a far more difficult challenge than learning how to use iMovie or goofing around with something like Xtranormal. If Apple opened a Video App Store, Millions would participate, not just hundreds of thousands.

    Apple should allow for micro payments as little as ten cents. Imagine if you had a YouTube type hit that attracted a million downloads and you got a dime for each download? That $100,000 could change your life!

    Millions of creations to serve billions of viewers - now that is a game changer for sure.

    Will the world’s most advanced datacenters be used to enable such a sea change? We can only hope so. In the meantime, i am preparing my first series for it.

    Like the way you think grandpa.

         
  • Posted: 26 April 2011 05:47 PM #13

    Tetrachloride - 25 February 2011 08:20 PM

    MacNN:  no sign of paying for MobileMe http://www.macnn.com/articles/11/02/25/service.moving.rapidly.towards.new.incarnation/

    I’m guessing that MobileMe could be free by the end of the month, or even day now.

    Mine was automatically renewed at no cost a day before it expired on Monday.

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  • Posted: 26 April 2011 07:12 PM #14

    Grandpabrian - 26 April 2011 03:58 PM

    The New World Order, if Apple leads the way, is to allow anyone to become a Producer and a Studio and SELL their offerings to the world markets at prices they see fit. Millions of people already know how to use tools like iMovie and Garageband and a couple hundred million already have Apple accounts. In short, take the YouTube concept to the next level and MONETIZE it. Create a video app store.

    First, welcome. Great first post.

    Second, I actually thought this was going to happen with iTunes and songs - that amateur artists woulds would bypass the labels, upload their songs to iTunes and sell them directly through iTunes. Never happened.

    Next, I thought YouTube would try to do something similar. Never happened.

    Google has owned YouTube for years but they seem to only piddle around with it. Only now are they making some half-hearted efforts to monetize it.

    Why is this taking so long? Why is this so hard? Is it, as Grandpabrian suggests, just a matter of a great company like Apple coming along and implementing it correctly? Or are there subtle and intractable issues that we’re not aware of?

         
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    Posted: 26 April 2011 07:39 PM #15

    It’s hard because you still need the Star-maker machinery.  The record company/radio/music video/magazines/newspaper machine still tells everyone what to buy.

    I’ve been hearing for years all the hype of the democratization of production means for musicians and artists, yeah they can produce hits in their hotel room, but the democratization of publicity, ain’t as easy as just starting your own myspace page and sending a couple of emails to fans who signed up at your last gig . . . . you need some way to reach the masses. 

    Youtube isn’t it.  Facebook isn’t going to do it.

    Perhaps Apple could become a major media heavyweight and push their own stable of artists, but that would clearly be competing with all the other label artists that they sell now, not likely.

    Same thing with television and movies.  The studios and the networks have the distribution channels.  They can talk about the death of the Hollywood studios all they want, when was the last movie you saw that wasn’t distributed by one of the bigs.

    TV, yeah it’s dying because they play commercials.  If advertising content could kill something, the internet will be dead any day now. 

    The power lies in those who have distribution.  Apple has distribution, whether they can use it and not upset the rest of their channel partners is questionable.