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iCloud: fluffy or not?

There is now a lot of news around Apple’s iCloud, so I thought to throw in my two cents worth.

Firstly, I want to start off by saying that Apple has now taken over the marketing mantle from Microsoft and must surely be the best self marketing company out there. They know how to reach their consumers and more importantly, how to keep their consumers happy. This is a good thing! Secondly, my view on Apple is that they have very successfully changed themselves into a media company, with some great devices to make use of this media. Call it iMedia for lack of a better word, but they are really good at it, and they keep playing to their strengths, which is also a good thing!

A quick view back on history, it took the iPod to make mp3’s popular. There were players and P2P networks and some mp3 players, but the iPod made mp3 popular and transformed the music industry. Well, they are still busy transforming. What would be interesting is to see who will win the battle of the DRM, with Apple and the music industry both pursuing their own DRM solutions.

But for now, let’s focus on the cloud. There are a lot of comparisons running between iCloud and Google’s cloud, though there are more providers than just Google, a quick search (on Google) give at least the following cloud providers:

  • Google
  • Amazon
  • Rackspace
  • GoGrid
  • ElasticStack
  • CX
  • VPS Net
  • Slice Host
  • Microsoft Azure
  • Dropbox

The providers are in no specific order and I apologise if I left anyone out.

This just shows that Apple is not the first company to offer cloud services, and it will not be the last. The difference is the focus, Apple focuses on their iMedia, everything synch and there is various copies of the same documents on different Apple devices. Apple also doesn’t see the browser as a useful interface, but rather open it up to app developers to write more apps that can make use of the cloud. They promise everything “just works” and I’m sure it will, Apple is great with meeting consumers demand.

The thing is, to compare the iCloud with say Google or Amazon, is like comparing an apple with an apple orchard (excuse the pun), but you cannot really compare them. The providers listed above does not just focus on media, they focus on what the cloud is meant for. The cloud is not meant for just media files, it is changing the way we are going to do business and interact.

I’ve never used DropBox, so I can only talk from reading their marketing material on their website. But then, I’ve also not used iCloud, so again I talk from reading their marketing material on their website. Both aims to do the same thing, managing your media files, but DropBox also allow the sharing of the files, and support more than just the iSphere of devices. And this is the beauty of Apple’s marketing, it is already seen as a better option than DropBox, even though, by just reading the website, DropBox has more feathers, and support more devices.

But the cloud goes further than just supporting your media files, when the cloud is used in the correct way, it changes everything. With Amazon I can have a server up and running in minutes, and the same goes for just about all the other listed providers. On this server I can deploy a CMS, CRM, ERP or whatever solution I want. This will be available to my customers within seconds of me finishing the deployment, and they can use it from anywhere they have an internet connection. This is the beauty of the cloud; it is going to simplify our lives.

My customers don’t need the infrastructure anymore to run their businesses; they just need an internet connection. I don’t have to mirror their solutions at home in order to make changes, I can make a copy of their server in the cloud, do my changes, export my latest updates and upgrade their updates without them knowing about it. Redundancy, lower cost and going forward, simpler deployments, which is what the cloud means for me. And then it’s great that I can sync my iMedia stuff to the cloud when I want to. I’m saving on buying hard drives and managing everything at home.

From the blogosphere it seems like this is an either /or battle, with one or the other company to win the fight and emerge the victor. I rather like the idea that I can use both. The same way as I use LinkedIn for my career stuff and Facebook for my private stuff, I can use different offerings from different companies for different stuff. And that is the beauty of all this. So in the end, I’m the winner.

The cloud provider winner however, I don’t think it will be Apple. Although the iCloud is great at what it does, it is too limited. It only focuses on one little part of the cloud, and forgets the rest. And the business part of the cloud is already and will be indefinitely bigger than the private iMedia files that iConsumers put on the cloud.

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