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First Look: Apple's iCloud data center site in Reno, Nevada

post #1 of 102
Thread Starter 
Apple has more in its pipeline than just new Macs and iOS products; the company is aggressively planning out and building new data centers to support iCloud and related iTunes features. Here's a look at the next major construction project planned at the new Reno Technology Park.

Apple Reno data center site


Seven years after locating its Braeburn Capital asset management subsidiary in Reno, Nevada (largely for tax purposes), Apple is planning an expansion of its footprint in the area for reasons beyond favorable tax rates.

Among the top factors that attracted Apple's attention to Reno were access to low cost power with solar and other renewable options; availability of high speed fibre optic conduits; limited risk of natural or man made disasters; and lower overall costs combined with, of course, tax incentives.

Apple Reno data center site


While Apple's Braeburn group was attracted by the state's lack of a corporate income tax, that factor is far less important to the location of Apple's data centers, which don't directly generate substantial revenues. Instead, low property and sales taxes were important.

The State of Nevada, Washoe County and the City of Reno collectively approved a series of tax abatements for Apple last summer, paving the way for Apple to begin construction. The incentives run for more than a decade, and portions of the tax reductions can be extended through 2042.

However, Reno isn't the only location in the US with low property and sales taxes, or economic conditions what will prompt state and local governments to offer tax incentives to attract the investment of a company like Apple.

Nebraska, Oregon and Wyoming have already adopted tax mitigation legislation specifically to attract data centers. Texas and Utah both offer greater tax incentive packages than Nevada does. But taxes aren't the only thing data center builders like Apple evaluate in picking a site.

A study that looked at a variety of competing data center construction and operational cost factors at a series of different potential sites performed by Nevada indicated that, even with tax incentives, Reno couldn't beat the overall cost advantages of a site in Oregon. Fortunately for Nevada, Apple wants to build multiple sites; the company is now building massive data centers in both Oregon and Nevada.


Reno Technology Park



Apple Reno data center site


The new site, located just past a freeway scenic overlook east of Reno (view shown above), offers lots of relatively cheap land and has access to massive amounts of electrical power, thanks in part to a power plant (shown below) located adjacent the site.

Apple Reno data center site

Apple Reno data center site


Next to the plant is a solar field that's so large it appears to be a freeway in the panorama below, until you zoom in at greater detail (shown with inset detail below). There are also eight high capacity transmission lines to other power stations, which link to hydroelectric power plants in nearby states.

Apple Reno data center site

Apple Reno data center site


In addition to the existing, redundant power sources, the site also provides expansion room for additional solar and wind energy installations (the pano below depicts an area north of the freeway designated for solar field expansion), and has assess to high speed fibre optic data lines through a variety of carriers.

Apple Reno data center site


The cost of power in northern Nevada has been falling, and is now available in surplus, meaning that a data center located there can be guaranteed access to large amounts of affordable energy and can sign long term contracts to maintain a consistent supply of power at predictable prices.

A report by the Reno Gazette Journal cited site selection consultant Dennis Donovan as saying that data center clients "don't just want low cost electric power, but it also has to be reliable. THey also look at the source of that power and make sure that there is enough to support extra capacity without costs increasing dramatically it it's needed in the future."

Apple's third major US data center



After initiating plans to develop Reno Technology Park, Unique Infrastructure Group immediately began efforts to recruit potential data center clients to its new site, including Apple. As it turns out, the Reno site will be Apple's third major US data center.

Apple began with an initial data center site located in Maiden, North Carolina, which was first announced in July 2009 and became "fully operational" in late 2010.

That site went online just several months before Steve Jobs outlined Apple's plans for iCloud at its Worldwide Developer Conference in the summer of 2011. As a major new initiative, iCloud (and related iTunes services such as Match, as well as Apple's other cloud centric services that would follow it. including Siri and Maps) has a voracious appetite for data center capacity.

Apple recently began building a second data center site in Prineville, Oregon, near existing data center facilities operated by Facebook and in the same region as a data center built by Amazon.

Apple Reno data center site


Last summer, Apple announced it would also be building its third major data center at Reno Technology Park, investing over a billion dollars to make the project happen.

"We hope to build Apple's next data center in Reno to support Apple's iTunes Store, App Store, and incredibly popular iCloud services," the company's Kristin Huguet stated at the time.

The site itself is about a fifteen minute drive from Reno/Sparks (above, entering from with east with a view of the mountains near Lake Tahoe, the site of the first Winter Olympics to be held in the United States), neighboring cities that will also see additional expansion by Apple related to its operations of the new data center. Those plans will be detailed in a subsequent report.
post #2 of 102
Is this in an earthquake zone ?
post #3 of 102
Reno, Nevada... Virginia City... What was the codename for this Apple project, "Ponderosa"?... Right Pa!

Ten years ago, we had Steve Jobs, Bob Hope and Johnny Cash.  Today we have no Jobs, no Hope and no Cash.

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post #4 of 102

Compared to Cupertino, which lies on an active fault, Reno is pretty low in seismic activity if you consult the USGS.gov site

post #5 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banyan Bruce View Post

Is this in an earthquake zone ?

Do to the molten core and tectonic plates all of Earth is an earthquake zone. 1biggrin.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

Reno, Nevada... Virginia City... What was the codename for this Apple project, "Ponderosa"?... Right Pa!

(dot)Comstock Lode?

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post #6 of 102
Looks like another good one from DED. Actual reporting! I look forward to reading it . . .
post #7 of 102
What's more interesting to me is the fact Apple is building two more data centres. That's a huge upgrade to their current system and goes far beyond just having redundancy.

Perhaps to support a streaming service? Or the rumored Apple TV ( which would require a lot of capacity)?
post #8 of 102

But by all means run articles on hedge fund managers whining in efforts to drive the stock down, instead of reporting on the half dozen or so data centers being built around the globe, and much more going on behind the scenes where billions from Apple is currently being allocated for future growth.

post #9 of 102
That is awesome. What a smart move! Mainly for the power source. ; )
post #10 of 102
It's also next door to Nevada's first legal (and largest) brothel - Mustang Ranch. And close to the I-80 turn-off for Burning Man. Yee haw.
post #11 of 102
If USA army can stash tanks there...
post #12 of 102

Should have built a couple of this from the start. Shouldn't wait this long.

post #13 of 102

One thing that I don't like about iCloud is that people who own multiple iOS devices get penalized for owning so many devices.

 

If ten different people buys one iPad each, then every person will get 5 GB of iCloud storage space, costing Apple 50 GB of combined space.

 

If one person buys ten iPads, then that person will only get 5 GB to share between all of their devices, costing Apple 5 GB of combined space.

 

People who own many devices should get rewarded, not penalized. 5 GB is not enough space when you have multiple iOS devices. And no, I am not the least bit interested in paying extra for additional storage, purely out of principle. I don't care if it costs 99 cents per year.


Edited by Apple ][ - 3/9/13 at 6:11pm
post #14 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

Should have built a couple of this from the start. Shouldn't wait this long.

Prices was high for data centers without water and solar energy plants

post #15 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Apple 
[" url="/t/156385/first-look-apples-icloud-data-center-site-in-reno-nevada#post_2290805"]One thing that I don't like about iCloud is that people who own multiple iOS devices get penalized for owning so many devices.

If ten different people buy ten iPads, then each one of them will get 5 GB of iCloud storage space, costing Apple 50 GB of combined space.

If one person buys ten iPads, then that person will only get 5 GB to share between all of their devices, costing Apple 5 GB of combined space.

People who own many devices should get rewarded, not penalized. 5 GB is not enough space when you have multiple iOS devices. And no, I am not the least bit interested in paying extra for additional storage, purely out of principle. I don't care if it costs 99 cents per year.

I certainly understand what you're saying and it would be great if authenticated devices could be tied to additional storage but there is some complexity with such a setup. You need to make sure it can't be spoofed so people can't get extra storage without buying a device, and you'd have to limit it one additional iCloud account which would probably mean there would have to be a untether a device and then allow it to be tethered to another.

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post #16 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


I certainly understand what you're saying and it would be great if authenticated devices could be tied to additional storage but there is some complexity with such a setup. You need to make sure it can't be spoofed so people can't get extra storage without buying a device, and you'd have to limit it one additional iCloud account which would probably mean there would have to be a untether a device and then allow it to be tethered to another.

I don't know anything about the technical issues behind it, but surely it can't be all that complicated I imagine.

 

Whenever I open up iTunes, a list of iOS devices that I own are located via WIFI and they pop up as separate devices, so Apple surely knows how many devices I own and how many are connected to my Apple ID, don't they?

 

If there is some vast complexity or technical hurdles behind this limitation, then ok, I might understand that, but if it's simply a business decision that was made, then I don't agree with that.

post #17 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Apple 
[" url="/t/156385/first-look-apples-icloud-data-center-site-in-reno-nevada#post_2290808"]I don't know anything about the technical issues behind it, but surely it can't be all that complicated I imagine.

Whenever I open up iTunes, a list of iOS devices that I own are located via WIFI and they pop up as separate devices, so Apple surely knows how many devices I own and how many are connected to my Apple ID, don't they?

If there is some vast complexity or technical hurdles behind this issue, then ok, I might understand that, but if it's simply a business decision that was made, then I don't agree with that.

1) That isn't Apple knowing anything. That's iTunes seeing USB and WiFi connected iDevices.

2) Using your scenario every time a new iDevice UDID pops in iTunes you want to get additional storage on iCloud so that means iTunes is then sending that data to iCloud to be logged as a new device. Since we're only talking about simple identification as HW it would be difficult to spoof many fake WiFI or USB connected devices that don't exist. So should these people get additional storage or do you no longer care about potential thieves because you want something?

3) The viable option is by using iCloud accounts that require the username and password authentication but then you have the issues after the fact with how the data will be utilized. If you delete an iCloud account from a device does it instantly drop your total data amount which could affect your current storage? You can't have it remove all backups for that device to alleviate the usage because you might be restoring the device for one of various reasons. Can you log your iCloud account as inactive on your grandmother's iPad because you know she won't ever use that storage for anything? If you have multiple iCloud accounts tied to devices which one gets the extra storage or do all accounts get the extra storage which means a family could set up on each other's devices to maximize storage?

4) These aren't insurmountable issues but they also aren't trivial. Apple doesn't like to jump in head first like MS and Google with piss poor planning to see what works and change it up after a seriously security breach or logistical nightmare has been found. They could do that but they usually like to measure twice and cut once, as the saying goes. Haven't they had enough issues figuring out cloud services over the years that poorly contrived features a negative thing to expect?

5) In a few months all those people with paid MobileMe accounts will expire and that 25GB will drop. I wouldn't be surprised if they up everyone's storage to at least 10GB with the next iPhone release simply because of the multi-device ownership. Wouldn't that just be easier than using iCloud accounts and CC purchases with devices connected to iTunes that report home to Apple's servers as a way of making sure a typical allotment of iDevices backs up to iCloud?

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post #18 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Apple 
[" url="/t/156385/first-look-apples-icloud-data-center-site-in-reno-nevada#post_2290805"]One thing that I don't like about iCloud is that people who own multiple iOS devices get penalized for owning so many devices.

If ten different people buys one iPad each, then every person will get 5 GB of iCloud storage space, costing Apple 50 GB of combined space.

If one person buys ten iPads, then that person will only get 5 GB to share between all of their devices, costing Apple 5 GB of combined space.

People who own many devices should get rewarded, not penalized. 5 GB is not enough space when you have multiple iOS devices. And no, I am not the least bit interested in paying extra for additional storage, purely out of principle. I don't care if it costs 99 cents per year.
Why use the same account for each? In our family everyone has an iDevice and the store account ID is the same for each so music and Apps are available for everyone. However, each has a separate iCloud account so they all get 5GB of storage.
post #19 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

What's more interesting to me is the fact Apple is building two more data centres. That's a huge upgrade to their current system and goes far beyond just having redundancy.

Perhaps to support a streaming service? Or the rumored Apple TV ( which would require a lot of capacity)?

 

How do you know this goes beyond redundancy?

post #20 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


1) That isn't Apple knowing anything. That's iTunes seeing USB and WiFi connected iDevices.

2) Using your scenario every time a new iDevice UDID pops in iTunes you want to get additional storage on iCloud so that means iTunes is then sending that data to iCloud to be logged as a new device. Since we're only talking about simple identification as HW it would be difficult to spoof many fake WiFI or USB connected devices that don't exist. So should these people get additional storage or do you no longer care about potential thieves because you want something?

3) The viable option is by using iCloud accounts that require the username and password authentication but then you have the issues after the fact with how the data will be utilized. If you delete an iCloud account from a device does it instantly drop your total data amount which could affect your current storage? You can't have it remove all backups for that device to alleviate the usage because you might be restoring the device for one of various reasons. Can you log your iCloud account as inactive on your grandmother's iPad because you know she won't ever use that storage for anything? If you have multiple iCloud accounts tied to devices which one gets the extra storage or do all accounts get the extra storage which means a family could set up on each other's devices to maximize storage?

4) These aren't insurmountable issues but they also aren't trivial. Apple doesn't like to jump in head first like MS and Google with piss poor planning to see what works and change it up after a seriously security breach or logistical nightmare has been found. They could do that but they usually like to measure twice and cut once, as the saying goes. Haven't they had enough issues figuring out cloud services over the years that poorly contrived features a negative thing to expect?

5) In a few months all those people with paid MobileMe accounts will expire and that 25GB will drop. I wouldn't be surprised if they up everyone's storage to at least 10GB with the next iPhone release simply because of the multi-device ownership. Wouldn't that just be easier than using iCloud accounts and CC purchases with devices connected to iTunes that report home to Apple's servers as a way of making sure a typical allotment of iDevices backs up to iCloud?

 

Of course I don't want Apple to be implementing anything if it's easy for thieves to spoof devices or if the implementation were to be rushed or done half way. But I do expect Apple to somehow solve this issue in the future.

post #21 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by joekewe View Post

It's also next door to Nevada's first legal (and largest) brothel - Mustang Ranch. And close to the I-80 turn-off for Burning Man. Yee haw.

Didn't know someone here is a frequent visitor.

post #22 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post


Why use the same account for each? In our family everyone has an iDevice and the store account ID is the same for each so music and Apps are available for everyone. However, each has a separate iCloud account so they all get 5GB of storage.

I wasn't even aware that that was possible. Having a separate ID for each device, but sharing a store account ID?

 

That would solve the issues that I was talking about, so I will certainly look into that. My Apple ID for my devices is the same as the store account ID though, so maybe I will need to make a new Apple ID for each device that I own, while still sharing the same store ID. I'll be looking more into this issue.

post #23 of 102

Are those chemtrails over yonder.

post #24 of 102
Originally Posted by bikenm View Post
Are those chemtrails over yonder.

 

So what was the reason for bringing a conspiracy theory into this discussion?

post #25 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post


Why use the same account for each? In our family everyone has an iDevice and the store account ID is the same for each so music and Apps are available for everyone. However, each has a separate iCloud account so they all get 5GB of storage.

I tested your method.

 

I did delete an iCloud account on one of my iPads and I made a new one and it did give me 5 GB of storage, so your method does work.

 

However, your solution might be good for a family situation, but I think I'm going to delete the new iCloud ID which I made and revert back to the original way, because I am not sharing my devices with anybody, they're all mine, and now I am unable to access them all with the same ID when I go to iCloud.com.

 

I liked how I was able to go to findmyiphone before and all of my devices would pop up on the same map, because they were all connected to the same iCloud account. That is no longer the case of course, if each one has a different account, and they don't share the same data, such as notes, reminders, contacts etc.

 

So your solution seems to work great for multiple people, but for one sole person, such as myself, I guess that I'll just have to live with the limitations of 5 GB for the moment.


Edited by Apple ][ - 3/9/13 at 7:55pm
post #26 of 102
Even after this expansion, I'll still experience the beach ball when trying to stream music.
post #27 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

 

So what was the reason for bringing a conspiracy theory into this discussion?

I don't know. I have read theories on Apple discussion boards that are more far fetched than my comment. Just a light comment, take it easy.

post #28 of 102
Originally Posted by bikenm View Post
I have read theories on Apple discussion boards that are more far fetched than my comment.

 

HA! Now that's true.

post #29 of 102

Very Groom Lake-ish . . . 

 

 

1smoking.gif

post #30 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

One thing that I don't like about iCloud is that people who own multiple iOS devices get penalized for owning so many devices.

 

If ten different people buys one iPad each, then every person will get 5 GB of iCloud storage space, costing Apple 50 GB of combined space.

 

If one person buys ten iPads, then that person will only get 5 GB to share between all of their devices, costing Apple 5 GB of combined space.

 

People who own many devices should get rewarded, not penalized. 5 GB is not enough space when you have multiple iOS devices. And no, I am not the least bit interested in paying extra for additional storage, purely out of principle. I don't care if it costs 99 cents per year.

5 GB. per account is nothing now. Apple should rewards its users with at least 20 GB. per ID. like Google did.

post #31 of 102


Originally Posted by EricTheHalfBee View Post

What's more interesting to me is the fact Apple is building two more data centres. That's a huge upgrade to their current system and goes far beyond just having redundancy.

Perhaps to support a streaming service? Or the rumored Apple TV ( which would require a lot of capacity)?

 

AppleTV / iTV is certainly one reasonable assumption.  My favorite plan though, is Search.  

 

Yes, general-purpose search.  It takes a ton of resources and time to build up, just like Maps (and we saw how hard that was to pull off a good v1.0).  But can you imagine if it was successful at drawing even 10% of the general search audience?  Google would be shitting their pants, for sure, and it's probably one of the few product areas that would be likely move the needle for AAPL revenues and stature in the investment world.

 

Here's the thing. Apple is probably the ONLY company in the world that has a chance in the near-to-middle term to do it, and only because they own so much of the mobile space right now.  It's totally ripe, and I think they are probably working on it, but don't want to come out with a half-assed v1.0 like they did with Maps.  It wouldn't surprise me if Maps was a small step in this vague direction to test the waters. I'm crossing my fingers on this, even though it may not happen soon.

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post #32 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by ankleskater View Post

How do you know this goes beyond redundancy?
Common sense. They already have redundancy in their Maiden data centre. The only thing they aren't protected against in Maiden would be a natural disaster that disables the entire centre (unlikely as that is). You don't need two extra data centres for redundancy. You don't even need one. Apple is building additional capacity, and it's unlikely it's just for new customers.
post #33 of 102


Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

Seven years after locating its Braeburn Capital asset management subsidiary in Reno, Nevada (largely for tax purposes) and with the sudden disappearance of Braeburn, Apple is planning on maintaining the same footprint in the area for reasons beyond favorable tax rates.

Fixed!

lol.gif

post #34 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Quadra 610 View Post

Very Groom Lake-ish . . . 


1smoking.gif
You beat me to it.
post #35 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blah64 View Post

My favorite plan though, is Search.  
Apple is still a couple of orders of magnitude out relative to Google’s data centers, but they could do more on Siri's search capabilities.

As a stockholder, I am glad they are taking a more measured approach to growth. Hopefully they are learning some lessons and moving away from the more Oracle/Aszure based solutions into something more home-grown Hadoop based that will scale more effectively. Same goes for power system architecture; you can't compete with Google if you are building traditional 2(N+1) data centers. Mke it maintainable and fail over to another site in a major incident.

I hear rumors Apple is taking up a fair bit of collocation space as well, not sure what kind of durations though.
post #36 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

2) Using your scenario every time a new iDevice UDID pops in iTunes you want to get additional storage on iCloud so that means iTunes is then sending that data to iCloud to be logged as a new device. Since we're only talking about simple identification as HW it would be difficult to spoof many fake WiFI or USB connected devices that don't exist. So should these people get additional storage or do you no longer care about potential thieves because you want something?

This is silly. All Apple has to do is - every time you register a new device with iOS, they add 5 GB to your account. If you remove the device from your account and register it somewhere else, you lose the 5 GB.

It doesn't involve any magical complexity except for Apple checking the ID when you register - which they're doing already. If someone manages to spoof an ID, they would get 5 GB under the current system (assuming they created a unique iCloud account) or 5 GB under the proposed system, so it wouldn't cost Apple any more - if it even happened at all. I don't know of any way to spoof that, anyway.
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post #37 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

5 GB. per account is nothing now. Apple should rewards its users with at least 20 GB. per ID. like Google did.

There's a difference. Google makes money off your account by harvesting your data. Apple does not.
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post #38 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


There's a difference. Google makes money off your account by harvesting your data. Apple does not.

Much better. . .

 

But do you really know whether Apple makes any revenue from harvesting their user data too? It seems likely they do. Otherwise how would they deliver targeted iAds? As long as it's on a smaller scale than Google is that enough to make it acceptable to you that Apple might make money from "selling you" too?


Edited by Gatorguy - 3/10/13 at 8:07am
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post #39 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

There's a difference. Google makes money off your account by harvesting your data. Apple does not.

 

Proof?  

 

The Verge had an interesting article comparing the privacy policies of various cloud drive providers.

 

Both Google and Apple's policies are remarkably similar, with one major exception.  Apple states that it can remove any content it finds "objectionable".  As the Verge put it:

 

"That's the harshest line yet — Apple says it can scan and delete any data it wants at any time if that data is "objectionable," without strictly defining what "objectionable" actually means. That's probably not going to be an issue for the vast majority of iCloud users, but it's something to think about if you're putting anything sensitive or on the fringe into your iCloud account."

 

We already know they scan emails, from the recent brouhaha over the "barely legal" stuff.

 

If a cloud drive provider is going to scan my stuff, I'd rather they use it for anonymous trend collection, rather than to make moral judgements on me.

post #40 of 102
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

This is silly. All Apple has to do is - every time you register a new device with iOS, they add 5 GB to your account. If you remove the device from your account and register it somewhere else, you lose the 5 GB.

It doesn't involve any magical complexity except for Apple checking the ID when you register - which they're doing already. If someone manages to spoof an ID, they would get 5 GB under the current system (assuming they created a unique iCloud account) or 5 GB under the proposed system, so it wouldn't cost Apple any more - if it even happened at all. I don't know of any way to spoof that, anyway.

Let's examine your scenario…

So I have an extra 5GB and I'm using that for backups and iCloud app data. It gets unregistered as a user decides to wipe a device that isn't functioning properly (or whatever) but when he builds his system back up a different iCloud ID gets registered first. In your scenario that 5GB gets removed from the account and data utilized on that 5GB gets kicked off as part of your "you lose the 5GB" comment.

But which data? What if the user didn't mean to register that particular iCloud account for the extra data? What if that data are saved documents for various apps?

The very fact that you haven't thought about any circumstances that could lead to a loss of user data and how to resolve them is proof that you haven't thought it through. As I previously stated, these aren't unsurmountable issues, but they are issues and expecting Apple to do what you say without any other consideration is just setting them up for failure.

...

Remember when Apple launched MobileMe? 1) They launched at the same time as the Phone 3G. 2) They launched it at the same time as iOS nee iPhone OS 2.0. 3) They made it a 30-day trial that anyone could sign up for without a CC. All these things led to what should have been an impressive display of visually appealing but untested (on the large scale) system.

The service slowed to a crawl for the first weekend, Apple had to scramble which undoubtedly cost more money than with careful planning, and they lost credibility which is why a few laters we got a rebranding called iCloud. It's not easy to save a a tainted brand.

If they planned better (like opening up to .Mac users first) and/or not pimping it with every sale in the Apple Store as a service to try for free (which includes requiring a CC on file in case you want to keep it), and/or doing what Google did with Gmail and making it invitation-only (which you can scale as your system allows) we'd probably still be using the MobileMe name today.
Edited by SolipsismX - 3/10/13 at 9:19am

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