iCloud: The Mother of All Halos
If, as Steve Jobs says, software is the soul of Apple’s products, hardware their brains and sinew, then iCloud is their memory–and soon perhaps one of their biggest selling points as well. Certainly it’s a feature that will differentiate Apple’s already well-differentiated products even further from the competition.
ICloud’s ability to automatically and seamlessly integrate not just data but the applications that use it across Macs and iOS devices will likely cement customer loyalty for Apple products in a way we’ve not yet seen–even in Apple monomaniacs.
Once you’ve gotten used to having your apps and media managed through iCloud, it’s going to be awfully tough to leave it–not because it’s difficult to make the switch to a new platform, but because it will undoubtedly be so unpleasant to give up the effortless mobile data ubiquity it provides.
Who wants to go back to emailing documents to yourself, or firing up Dropbox to move media from one device to another, when iCloud will–if it works properly–obviate the need for both by enabling change-on-one-device, update-to-all computing that’s ostensibly effortless and invisible?
Add to that a price point of free and a software-driven ecosystem like the one Apple’s developed and, well, that’s an offer not easily refused. Not easily duplicated, either–particularly for more fragmented platforms like Android. Going forward, iCloud undoubtedly means more hardware purchases for Apple from new customers and old. It’s going to be another halo, perhaps even the biggest of them all.
This is, of course, all assuming iCloud works as advertised. As Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself noted during his WWDC keynote earlier this week, the company’s first foray into cloud services wasn’t a rousing success. “I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “Why should we trust Apple. They’re the ones who brought us MobileMe. It wasn’t our finest hour–let me just say that–but we learned a lot from it.”
We’ll see just how much come fall, but judging from what we saw Monday, it’s more than enough. iCloud has been smartly conceived, and if it’s done well the chances are good it will become one of those “how did I ever live without this” services.
A final observation: How ironic is it that in the end it’s Apple that’s poised to deliver on the mobile thin-client promise, not the companies that originally made it?