Steve Jobs of Apple announced the iCloud on June 6th to an elated audience at the Worldwide Developers Conference1. This was great news for consumers who paid $100 a year to back up their email, contact book and calendar for instant syncing between all their Apple devices (cell phone companies, such as Verizon, do this, too) with the MobileMe service.
iCloud will serve as Apple’s new “digital locker” service where consumers can back up all of the above as well as music, photos, apps, iBooks (ding ding ding ding!) and documents. The service will serve as a back-up system as well as a syncing program for all your Apple devices and personal computers. This means that you will still have the files on consumers’ devices when they back them up on iCloud. It’s more of a safety and transfer system.
Users will get 5GB of free storage for instant syncing into all Apple devices, including the iPad (are you getting the pattern here?), as well as personal computers running Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows2.
This is not unlike the Amazon (the race for greatest tablet on earth!) Cloud Drive, which also gives users 5GB of free storage, besides the fact that you can’t sync to Apple mobile devices through the Amazon service.
Now, the services are being driven more towards mp3 back-ups and syncing, but just think of the eReader battlefront. There’s Amazon and Barnes & Noble both fighting for the throne of the best eReader ever, but they are also fighting a kind of “cold war” behind the scenes. The digitization of Amazon and B&N’s move into touch-screen technology with their newest Nook are both campaigns to enter the tablet race, in which the Apple iPad is Usain Bolt. This is a logical move as more and more people are becoming interested in tablet PCs.
Cloud services are not the deciding factor in the tablet race, but they’re a great example of how Amazon and Apple are both competing to bring out the “newest and the best” in their product lines. I think iCloud will prove a bit of a blow for the Amazon Cloud Drive since it’s the newer of the two services. Consumers tend to huddle over the newest products (if they show high quality performance, of course) and I for one have changed my mind about starting a Cloud Drive and decided to wait for iCloud. Maybe that just means I’m gullible.
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It’s because I’m elated to think about what these cloud services could do for the digital publishing world. I think the mediaIDEAS blog sums it up best: “It is equally important for publishers to understand the concept of cloud computing as it is for the music industry, perhaps even more so. In the very near future, we will all store everything in the cloud. And that is going to be mighty important to our business models3.”
These services will allow consumers to back-up their eBooks and sync them to their repertoire of digital devices. The widespread streaming of eBooks will become the backbone of digital publishing, which will in turn provide the best way to access books and magazines. Cloud services solidify the eBook in terms of convenience: bringing it to consumers at any time, anywhere.