Apple’s iCloud – nothing but blue sky?

Apple’s iCloud – nothing but blue sky

fad –noun: a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc, especially one followed enthusiastically by a group.
trend –noun: the general course or prevailing tendency; style; vogue.
game changer –colloquialism: an innovation that changes or redefines business.

It’s difficult to browse the media today and not read about a new technology, product or application in this ever-advancing online world. Whether it’s a new “i” this or a new “smart” that, it can be a bit daunting to try to make sense of each new development and how it might impact our business (or not).

The goal of this blog is to highlight new technologies, products and applications and discuss their potential impact on the way we do business, always asking the question: Is this just a passing fad, a new trend or will it change the game as we know it? Hopefully as a result, we can spark some great conversations.

So let’s begin with Apple’s recently announced iCloud. First of all, what’s a cloud or, as it’s more commonly referred to, cloud computing? Simply put, it’s a secure, online environment where you can access your applications and data from any network-connected device, such as a computer, smart phone or tablet. In other words, rather than storing files on your devices, you store them in the cloud for better accessibility and security.

Cloud computing, however, is not new. Consumers have been using cloud-based services for years…most having no idea that their Gmail or Yahoo! email accounts are cloud services. Paying bills online and Internet banking are all cloud-based applications.

Apple’s iCloud itself is not really a “new” service. It’s a revamp of an existing service – MobileMe – a subscription-based offering allowing users to store and syncronise files, email, calendars, etc., amongst devices. The difference with iCloud is that it will a) be free with up to 5GB of storage and b) will automatically push your music, photos, calendars, documents, etc. to all your devices. No manual syncing required. Add a contact on your iPhone and it’s automatically sent to your address book on your iMac and iPad, for example.

So why all the buzz? It’s not like Apple is the first out the door with this concept. Google and Amazon have both recently launched similar services.

Well, first of all, it’s Apple… and ever since the game-changing iPhone and iPad were introduced, we take notice. And if it’s enough to bring Steve Jobs up on stage, then it must be worth talking about. Secondly, it furthers Apple’s ‘lock-in’ strategy by – according to Wired Magazine – making the connection between the iOS and Mac operating systems a “more seamless, convenient and irresistible” experience than ever.

So while I don’t see the iCloud as a fad, it’s definitely part of a trend to move computing from being device-driven to operating on a more virtual landscape. Will it be a game changer as well?