Originally Posted by solipsism
I think that makes sense even though its getting harder for me to imagine Apple selling .Mac/MobileMe-like boxes to customers. However, if they do plan on selling iCloud services through 3rd-parties, like Amazon, they will need a physical product with a redeem code.
PS: Would they leverage iCloud as a download in Mac App Store to help promote it or an update via Software Update the way they did with .Mac to MobileMe?
My guess is that there will be no physical media for iCloud. Either it will be free as a way to get people into the Apple ecosystem and add value to existing hardware (this is what I think, with perhaps pay to upgrade to more iCloud storage space or a subscription for streaming media), or there will be some fee that can be billed online.
Perhaps iCloud will make it easy to share documents and media between iOS and OSX as well. For example, if I write a document on my iPad using Pages and save it, its automatically saved to iCloud. When I get home, I open Pages on my mac, and it's right there in my 'open recent documents' list. This would be great because among other things, it also opens up a whole world of printers that aren't AirPrint enabled.
And say my company uses an iPad ap and deploys a fleet of iPads throughout the enterprise, it would be a great way to easily sync field data collection (be it insurance claim forms, sales info, whatever) with the home office, or have it instantly available to you when you logged on to your primary computer.
This would also be great in the opposite direction. For example, video editing. Use Final Cut Pro on a mac. Save a reel of dailies to iCloud, and now everyone on the project can instantly stream dailies on their iPads. Or just make it easier to collaborate.
I think that iCloud (or whatever it is) will try to be an all-encompassing framework for both iTunes type media consumption/distribution/streaming as well as supporting the enterprise and enable a new way to incorporate the iPad into your daily workflow. Perhaps some parts of it will be free and others will require purchase or subscription.
And if Apple can make it work with little to no set-up or headaches, I think it would also enhance the value of the whole software-hardware ecosystem. If you can effortlessly move from your iMac at the desk to the iPad in the field or on the couch, it makes both products more appealing.