Does Apple Even Have a Cloud Strategy?

  • Posted: 29 April 2011 04:03 PM #16

    FalKirk - 28 April 2011 03:15 PM

    Apple has to prove that they can do the cloud. The things that make Apple strong with individual products - user experience, integration, controlling the whole stack, proprietary software, charging a premium price for a premium experience - seem to work against them in the cloud.

    Apple about to release something. I hope it’ll be great. But I’m not taking that as a given.

    In imagining what iCloud may be, its helpful to consider the complete Apple ecosystem and where it might fit to have the most impact.

    I tend to break the ecosystem into 3 components: products, services and platforms. Products are their stylish devices, accessories and application packages. Services are delivery, support and convenience offerings. Examples are retail stores, iTunes, App Store, MobileMe, etc. Platforms are components primarily used by 3rd parties to add value to the ecosystem. Examples are Mac OS X and iOS. Notable sub components are iAd, Game Center and In-App Purchases. These latter are hybrid platform and service (a possible hint).

    Its the third category, platform, where I believe iCloud could have the most impact. I’m looking for the next generation of Amazon Cloud Services. I’m imagining the NC data center is stuffed full of Xeon processors, exabytes of disks space and possibly petabytes of SSD. But unlike Amazon, which is a Linux and Windows platform, Apple’s is Mac OS X Servers complete with Xsan, Xgrid and the myriad other server apps that come with it.

    Apple will provide tight integration with these powerful servers and services through extensions to Mac OS X and iOS for developers to take advantage of. Imagine what Apple’s 100,000 developers could do with super computers, gobs of RAM and near unlimited storage.

    Regarding monetizing the platform, I imagine developers will be given a certain amount of compute time and storage for free and then allowed to resell any additional beyond that. Likewise, consumers will be given a certain amount of storage (locker) for free . Apps can be written by 3rd parties to manipulate items stored in those lockers such as innovative video players or video and audio editors. Maybe someone will write the next generation Facebook or Steam.

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    Posted: 29 April 2011 08:27 PM #17

    westech - 29 April 2011 06:47 PM

    Apple took their time in developing the iPod, iPhone and the iPad.  They released these products only when they were sure they could compete.  Not when they were perfect, only when they were able to blow away the competition.  One of SJ’s greatest abilities is to do this.  All had positive surprises in one way or another.  Apple’s iCloud venture will be the same.  I believe that it will set a new paradigm for ‘cloud computing’, forcing everyone else to rethink what they have done.

    Well… .Mac and MobileMe haven’t set the world on fire just yet.

    But real-life studies…er…betas?...or is it, actual cloud products?...shows that the “Cloud” is neither (1) all-important or (2) all-perfect.  Witness OTA software updates that brick certain Android phones, and very dubious things such as Airpush (a _push ad_ platform that invades Android’s push notification space.  Android aside, there’s cloud reliability and capacity/access constraints, particularly when mobile. 

    Google may be “winning” in the Cloud but I don’t see that hurting Apple’s fortunes one bit.  I can wait until Apple gets things right.  If anything, the Cloud as far as the rest of us are concerned is prime for straight-up redefinition by Apple.

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    Posted: 29 April 2011 09:54 PM #18

    What I?d like to see is an experience compelling in every way so that someone who owns a OSX or iOS product can utilize these services at base for free.  There can be premium levels, but an Apple user shouldn’t feel the need for other platforms
    (in no particular order)

    1   mail
    Can Apple provide a mail service that’s reliable. Questionable based on past experience.

    2.  cloud based apps
    Google docs, enough said.  Collaboration by multiple users on a single document. 

    3.  mapping
    It seems they are doing something in this area, and it would seem wise to offer this to all your mobile devices rather than relying on Google or Nokia to supply them the information.  Revenue potential?

    4.  storage and transfer for mobile to desktop sharing
    (Dropbox and Evernote) - I don?t know how I ever functioned before they came along. 

    5.  mobile device backup and sync with desktop
    This would allow untethering of iOS from desktop.  The big question to me is am I going to want to spend the time it takes to backup 16GB of my iPad over WiFi?  Not unless they use some kind of time machine process whereby you only have to backup differences.  Perhaps just remote services like sync, find my phone, remote wipe, etc., 

    6.  mobile software -  desktop software
    I?m sure everyone would concede that both App stores have been extremely successful,  no reason to think it won?t continue to expand and improve.

    7.  iTunes - music locker or music on demand service
    Is iTunes getting long in the tooth?  Is it time to revisit this?  As for the music locker services it?s certainly not something I?m interested in.  Call me old fashioned but I have the music of my life on my computer.  It?s a big improvement on albums stored in milk crates. 

    Here’s an article regarding some of the difficulties in licensing.  I’m sure the restrictions will be somewhat limiting.

    8.  video
    is it Apple TV?s time to shine? 

    I fervently hope that Apple looks at all the mess that?s out there now, and says ?you know what, we looked at all the services available, and we think we can do it better?  the same thing they did when they came out with the iPhone.

    Then we?ll have something to crow about.  We?ll see.


    Then there is the whole social area.  I really have no idea here.  Ping is certainly not what people have in mind.  I really don?t see that Apple has to get involved here.  Will it really sell any product? 

    Here we are getting religion about the cloud when it’s been a pretty bad week out there for services.  Amazon,Apple,Epsilon Playstation.  The cloud can come back to bite you.  I sometimes wonder if the start of RIMMs problems wasn’t the insistence of Saudi Arabia and India that they have access to their encrypted data.

    [ Edited: 29 April 2011 09:58 PM by jimlongo ]      
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    Posted: 29 April 2011 10:25 PM #19

    redge, was the problem with Mail, or ....... ?

         
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    Posted: 29 April 2011 10:28 PM #20

    Redge, what was the problem? Over the last few years I have almost no problems synching via MobileMe.

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    Posted: 02 May 2011 11:20 AM #21

    Regarding iTunes on iOS devices:

    Playback of media is either with the “Movies” app or the “iPod” app.  (Some smartypants even install VLC.)  Both apps are for playback only.  We cannot manipulate tags, change the rating or even change the format of the playlists.

    I have been hoping that one’s iOS device could be permanently “untethered” from the base Mac/Windows PC.  But its not going to happen until the iPod / Movie apps get upgrades for media management.

    Therefore the cloud strategy has got some closed doors which need to be specifically opened.

         
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    Posted: 02 May 2011 03:48 PM #22

    Apple doesn’t like the business model of giving free stuffs funded by advertisements.  Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo! employ this type of model.  Apple prefers to make $ through delivering and charging for quality products, services and content.  So expect iCloud to be a paid service and won’t be as popular as free cloud services.  The pros of paid service are smaller paying customers, more secured and minimal spams.

    Btw, other than Eddy Cue, is there another senior executive that is good at cloud?

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    Posted: 02 May 2011 04:06 PM #23

    Mace - 02 May 2011 06:48 PM

    Apple doesn’t like the business model of giving free stuffs funded by advertisements.  Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo! employ this type of model.  Apple prefers to make $ through delivering and charging for quality products, services and content.  So expect iCloud to be a paid service and won’t be as popular as free cloud services.  The pros of paid service are smaller paying customers, more secured and minimal spams.

    Btw, other than Eddy Cue, is there another senior executive that is good at cloud?

    I would agree with you and don’t mind paying for MobileMe since I see the benefit.  However the iOS advantage is that it has lots of Apps and developers are making money via ads on some of them.  Apple should offer something for free otherwise the google will cont. to dominate the cloud for free.  Most people don’t mind ads if they don’t have to pay money for the service.

         
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    Posted: 05 May 2011 12:53 AM #24

    Somebody has a strategy for Cinco de Mayo.  Thought I’d drop this in here.

    Cheap Trick Mariachi Mashup http://www.fark.com/vidplayer/6170362

         
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    Posted: 07 May 2011 11:22 PM #25

    I believe Apple viewed MobileMe as a premium service that ordinary consumers might spring for.

    The Apple Stores, retail and online, hoped that consumers would go for added services such as AppleCare, One-to-One and MobileMe.

    Then we have the iTunes Store.  99 cents for the majority of songs, even these days.  Simple. 

    Someone who appreciated the success of the iTunes Store finally wondered why MobileMe wasn’t enjoying the same glory.

    So, MobileMe is getting a makeover.  The biggest makeover would be a price between zero and 20 / year.  Still no firm word from any rumor source on what the features will be.  I’m thinking that Apple itself HAS NOT DECIDED what the features will be.  There could be technical reasons such as Lion or iOS 5 not ready.  Or there could be partner reasons mainly the music industry.  Or, Apple is making a business decision.  Or, Apple is unsure of the karma of a $ 0, 10, 20, 40, 70 price / year. 

    Plenty of chatter from the customers.  Really big kitchen.  Plenty of wait staff.  No meat on the plate.

    Anything over $ 20 these days for the main attraction of iDisk and email address would indicate to me that some misspelled “clue” and got “glue”.

    [ Edited: 08 May 2011 12:33 AM by Tetrachloride ]      
  • Posted: 08 May 2011 12:39 AM #26

    Mace - 02 May 2011 06:48 PM

    Apple doesn’t like the business model of giving free stuffs funded by advertisements.  Google, Facebook, Twitter and Yahoo! employ this type of model.  Apple prefers to make $ through delivering and charging for quality products, services and content.  So expect iCloud to be a paid service and won’t be as popular as free cloud services.  The pros of paid service are smaller paying customers, more secured and minimal spams.

    Btw, other than Eddy Cue, is there another senior executive that is good at cloud?

    With the size of the new data center, and space ready onsite for a 2nd data center, I’m thinking that whatever Apple does with iCloud that it will be a FREE cloud service. You don’t build something that large unless the service is free. Otherwise you would NOT get the demand or usage required to need this massive amount of infrastructure.

    And FREE is the way to go. The iTunes music store was only meant to break even, because Apple made money on the iPod. iTMS was a way to sell more iPods. I believe Apple is reaching into it’s playbook once again and plans to offer a free iCloud service. iCloud is a way to sell more iPhones and iPads.

    Furthermore, nothing prevents Apple from releasing iOS 5 (and iCloud) in June even if iPhone5 comes in September. WWDC is rumored to focus on OS X and iOS. If true and the big new features are iCloud integration, makes some sense to announce iCloud at WWDC as the big news that makes iOS 5 important.

    Finally, with the market cap success of Facebook and Google by providing free services supported by advertising, Apple might see the light and do the same, but supported by device sales (and iAds).

         
  • Posted: 08 May 2011 02:58 AM #27

    Speech speech speech. That’s huge when it happens. It needs big compute power backed by big database familiarity with you/your voice/your life. The soundbites have to go to a big server farm and generate an immediate, sensible response. The provider has to have your trust. 100% ad funded equals untrustworthy.

    Look what being first to get touch right has done for Apple. First to get speech right is bigger. And harder. A real moat when it’s done. A cloud service that feels like a device feature.

    [ Edited: 08 May 2011 03:14 AM by sleepygeek ]      
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    Posted: 11 May 2011 03:21 PM #28

    Between Jim’s post and this speculation on voice + mapping, we could have a tectonic shift

    http://sparkplug9.com/how-apples-ios-5-is-going-to-utterly-reinvent-local-mobile-search/

    Apple doesn?t need to be bigger than Android, but it absolutely needs to be better.

    So Apple is making iOS your new best friend ? that does all the annoying little detail work for you. And it?s via an acquisition they made over a year ago, Siri, and a massive data center in the clouds of North Carolina.

    Imagine this: pull out your iPhone and say: ?I need a flight to Toronto on June 9, arriving in early afternoon, a downtown hotel that doesn?t cost more than $200/night, and tickets to a Blue Jays game that weekend. Oh, and by the way, make me dinner reservations at a good French restaurant for Friday night.?

    Rocket science? Star Trek? Prerogative of wealthy execs with personal assistants and fat expense accounts? Rich man?s reality, poor man?s dream?

    Think again. This is what Siri does ? and this is the future of iOS.

    Parsing grammar is not trivial.  Then again, there’s been 30 years of LISP, and development of the Jeopardy-playing supercomputer.

         
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    Posted: 24 May 2011 02:54 PM #29

    Just getting around to this now.

    “icloud.com” directs to “cloudme.com”.  It does not support Safari!!??

    Looks like another attempt to pry $$ out of Apple Inc.

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    Posted: 27 May 2011 12:05 PM #30

    iTunes Cloud to include amnesty for file-sharers ?????

    http://blogs.computerworld.com/18369/apples_itunes_icloud_is_amnesty_for_file_sharers