While all the buzz around iCloud ahead of Monday was about streaming music to your device and the possibility of smaller, less storage dependent devices coming in the near future, Steve Jobs quickly made it clear that iCloud is about making devices more independent; from wires, programmes, and from limited mobile data capabilities.
Many of us where probably scratching our heads a bit when it became clear that iTunes in the cloud is not about streaming content to your iOS device or computer, but actually about having a central hub that allows any device to work independently from each other while still have access to to same data for cooperation. This was about removing the need for a computer, and even iTunes, to enjoy the full capabilities of your iOS device.
For Apple the iCloud is about a future direction and strategy, and not about streaming (at least not yet). It is about creating an environment for their own hardware to grow within. Apple is making the future mobile.
Is the iCloud a unique concept that is different form anything we have already seen? not really, but the way they are approaching it makes it feel different and unique. Combine that with their position in the global market and their customer base, and all of a sudden you have something that will link people to Apple even further, making any future devices likely to be an Apple one to allow you to easily integrate it with what is already existing in your iCloud.
Apple has realized that this is about positioning, strategy, and the consumer – not about technology in isolation. This is about Apple continuing to do what they have done in recent history; changing how we use technology.
Having the music industry and large media distributors onboard does not hurt either, as i’m sure most of us can see from the announcements made on Monday. There are however challenges to the relationship as well, such as country specific licensing rights. We already know that some of the iTunes in the cloud services, including iTunes Match will currently only be available in the US where Apple has reached agreements with the music industry. For the rest of the world there is still a lot of uncertainty around what the offer will be, and when it will become available.
How successful the iCloud will be remains to be seen. Same goes for how competitors, like Google and Amazon, will reply to this approach.I’m sure that sometimes in the near future Apple will make the iCloud stream your content to your device, but at the moment they have realized that there is a potential bottleneck to media streaming in the mobile networks limiting your mobile data downloads per month on your contract. Breaking free from that at the moment would be a costly affair for both Apple and the consumer. That will surely change in the future, in which case streaming will be switched on for the iCloud.
It looks like we might be in for a true battle of ideologies here; Apple with their somewhat closed consumer centered approach and Google with their more open approach. Personally i can understand Apple’s approach from a company perspective, but at the same time i wished they could be more open and allow other technologies to play on their ground as well.