6 Reasons iCloud Really Is the End of the PC
Today, Apple showed off features of their iCloud project– an online sync engine that puts your photos, calendars, app data and documents on every one of your devices. While no part of this was totally unexpected, it’s the sum of these parts that matters.
1. It’s safe. In fact, it’s safer than your PC.
Apple’s ID system has, as far as I can tell, never been successfully hacked.That could change in the future, of course, but since everyone is getting hacked these days (Sony’s PlayStation Network, Hotmail, etc.) the fact that Apple’s stood tall is a point in its favor. When your personal data is in the cloud, security matters more than anything. Apple has shown they know how to handle it.
2. For almost everyone, iCloud will do it right–and you’ll never look back.
Apple’s reputation has always been based on doing the bulk (70-80%) of something with ease, simplicity and reliability. They may not have every feature in the book, but the ones they do are reliable and simple. MobileMe launch notwithstanding, Apple’s focus has always been on doing most of what people want without ever getting bogged down with major issues. iCloud will be no exception, and for most people, it’ll be everything we want: a seamless sync that handles tons of data without making a peep.
3. Its price is perfect.
iCloud will be free to anyone on iOS 5 or OS X Lion (coming fall and summer, respectively). MobileMe memberships are automatically being extended through next year. Whatever the final price is for membership, it’s bound to be free or super-low (remember, Lion is only $29). That’s a better deal than you’ll find anywhere else.
4. It makes the device you’re already using even better.
iCloud simply gives your device more capabilities. You won’t need to work to make it happen. That’s part of what makes it so exciting as a play in the “post-PC” era. Like Android, iOS 5 will usher in “over-the-air” updates, and with iCloud, virtually everything that matters to you can be backed up remotely– which means that there’s just no reason to stay tethered to a computer. Now, of course, there are many reasons why cloud computing still has a ways to go: what do you do without an internet connection? But for now, it’s great to see Apple moving forward on this. I’ve no doubt that iCloud is key to the eventual “mobilization” of all of Apple’s product line. You can already see this happening with the Mac App Store: one password lets you re-download all your apps to a new machine. Will iCloud let you save your Mac’s documents as well? We’ll have to wait and see.
5. You get all the benefits, and none of the hassle.
iCloud includes an incredible feature (iTunes Match) that lets you sync your music library across devices–even if you didn’t purchase that music through iTunes. A $24/year service lets you “upgrade” your entire library–even your own, ahem, “found” tracks– to DRM-free iTunes files which are synced across up to 10 machines. Basically, you get the added convenience of the Cloud, without having to do any more than the bare minimum. You don’t need to be a slave to the iTunes Store. You don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars in “upgrade” fees. You don’t even have to worry about uploading your music library. It’s as fast, simple and intuitive as can be, and it lets you forget about having to transport a bulky library around with you.
6. It’s a committment.
No one’s going to claim that these features haven’t existed before– Android has several of them, in fact. But by making this a built-in, OS-level storage function, complete with Mac and PC sync, Apple (which, again, is America’s largest technology company) is putting a huge investment into the Cloud as the “digital hub” of the future. No one, save Google, has even gotten the basic elements right so far. What we’re about to see is a bold new shift in Apple’s direction, and one that only they could pull off. The main reason I’m excited for iCloud? Apple knows how to do it right– and if they don’t, they know who to hire, grab, or talk to to make it right. And that’s big news for everyone.
What do you think of the iCloud announcements? Are you excited? Underwhelmed? Irritated? Let me know in the comments!!