Sources: Apple utilizing 'iCloud' internally, service to be more than music

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited January 2014
Apple has begun adopting the "iCloud" name within several products currently under development, suggesting the appropriately labeled moniker is indeed the frontrunner for the company's soon-to-debut Internet cloud service, which will span beyond streaming music, AppleInsider has learned.



According to people familiar with the matter, Apple is prepping beta versions of both iOS 5.0 and Mac OS X Lion ahead of its annual developers conference that integrate with a service dubbed "iCloud," enabling users to sync and store much of the same information they currently can with the company's existing MobileMe service, such as bookmarks, email, contacts and iCal events.



With Apple promising to "unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS" at its Worldwide Developers Conference in five weeks, it's increasingly likely the Cupertino-based company will use the forum to divulge its plans for iCloud and provide its Mac and iOS developer communities with tools they can be used to leverage the new cloud service from within their applications.



Word that Apple is making active use of the name in future versions of its operating systems comes just one day after GigaOm's Om Malik cited sources as saying that the iPhone maker this month acquired the iCloud.com domain name for an estimated $4.5 million from Sweden-based desktop-as-a-service company, Xcerion. Conspicuously, Xcerion’s existing iCloud service was just rebranded to CloudMe, with the company purchasing the CloudMe.com domain on April 5, 2011.



To date, much of the focus on Apple's rumored iCloud service has revolved around streaming music to mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. Recent reports have stated that Apple has completed work on its music streaming product, and has even signed at least two major record labels for the rights to stream copyrighted content to users.



But evidence seen by AppleInsider suggests the service will go beyond music, and could be the central component of a revamped Apple's existing MobileMe service. To this end, reports dating back to February characterized Apple's plans future internet service plans as including a digital "locker" that would hold all of a users personal memorabilia, including photos, music and videos. That would negate the need for future Apple mobile devices like an iPhone to have a great deal of internal and costly flash memory storage.



Apple is also said to have been toying with the idea of making its enhanced MobileMe a free service that would further tie users into the Apple ecosystem and drive sales of the company's profitable hardware device. And while the music streaming component of the service could potentially be included free at first, at least some features of the music service would eventually require a fee, music industry insiders have said.







Currently, Apple's $99-per-year MobileMe service offers users 20GB of cloud-based storage, for both uploaded files and e-mails. But Apple has recently made it difficult for consumers to purchase new MobileMe subscriptions, further hinting that the company plans to implement radical changes to the service sooner rather than later.



But with fifth-generation iPhones reportedly not in the cards until later than usual this year, the new cloud service from Apple may not debut in earnest until the formal release of iOS 5, the next major iPhone operating system update. Reports suggest that iOS 5 will arrive alongside the anticipated "iPhone 5" this fall, bringing cloud services integrated into Apple's mobile operating system.



By introducing an iCloud service to developers this spring alongside pre-release versions of Mac OS X and iOS, Apple would afford itself ample time to test and stabilize the technology, which is likely to go a long way towards helping the company avoid a humiliating high-tech meltdown, like the one that recently hit Amazon's EC2 cloud service, crippling the services of its partners along the way.



For Apple, a move away from MobileMe and towards iCloud would mark the third time the company has completely overhauled its suite of Internet services. Initially dubbed iTools before being rebranded .Mac and targeted at the company's computer install base, the service was revamped and renamed again as MobileMe alongside the release of the iPhone 3G in 2008, introducing push email, push contacts and push calendars to its existing suite of web apps.



Apple's grand plans for iCloud are also believed to be rooted in its massive data center in Maiden, N.C., which is also conveniently slated to go online this spring after nearly two years of preparations. Apple executives have already gone on record as stating that the facility was conceived to support the future of both its iTunes and MobileMe services, which will soon interface with iCloud.



The $1 billion, 500,000 square-foot facility is five times larger than the company's current data center in Newark, Calif.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 74
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 516member
    Well I?m not too surprised by this. The delay of iWork suggested that it might be due to an incorporation in some cloud service. So I expect to see the next iteration of iWork tightly integrated with ?iCloud? ? and am looking forward to this! ? Keeping files in sync between computers is just a mess.
  • Reply 2 of 74
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 21,283member
    Costly flash memory? $1/GB isn't expensive at all IMO compared to potential data overage charges if you're relying on iCloud over-the-air.



    http://www.isuppli.com/Memory-and-St...te-Drives.aspx
  • Reply 3 of 74
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    It makes sense to totally overhaul internet based products several times, it's hard to know what to use them for. Syncing was a good insight. Also email makes sense because messages are relatively small and read from nearly everything. Music may also work well since music files are quite small by today's standards and typically listened to linearly.



    I think video may be premature with the quality of today's networks. Perhaps they will only sync the metadata about what video files you have. If they intend to consult this metadata and offer you the option of streaming from your home PC, I remind them of the immutable truth they may have forgotten in the cloud hype: streaming kinda sucks (from a user experience point of view).
  • Reply 4 of 74
    Gatorguy: I agree with you, but Apple's probably got two options here...

    1) Buy the iWhatever with less flash and sync over wifi (essentially, your mac and your iWhatever will be logged-in/registered with the same appleid and the datacenter will coordinate the p2p between the two devices).

    1a) Same as 1, but for $x/month Apple will store your info in the iCloud for remote syncing anywhere (no need to leave multiple devices turned on & connected).

    2) For people who can't sync wirelessly very often (or if cellular rates are too high), there's the 64gb iWhatever.



    So it'll be a tradeoff and customers can pick the option that's right for them.



    The more I think about iOS5 & Lion being released together, the more I'm convinced that iOS5 is to Lion as Snow Leopard is to Snow Leopard Server. (Identical OS, but with fewer:more features)
  • Reply 5 of 74
    tundraboytundraboy Posts: 1,624member
    iPod, iPhone, iPad. These are like booster rockets that have been attached to Apple's stock price. And now even before iPhone and iPad has fizzled out, we now have iCloud. Another round of dizzying increases for AAPL, anyone?
  • Reply 6 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    It makes sense to totally overhaul internet based products several times, it's hard to know what to use them for. Syncing was a good insight. Also email makes sense because messages are relatively small and read from nearly everything. Music may also work well since music files are quite small by today's standards and typically listened to linearly. ...



    I think that the media's emphasis on the iTunes part of the future cloud services is leading everyone astray. Given that Apple hasn't actually announced anything, the assumption that what they will announce all has to do with iTunes and cloud-based music and video storage might turn out to be quite wrong.



    It seems far more likely to me, (and far more doable), to have the cloud component work as a slightly enhanced version of the way iDisk works now (i.e. - a simple integrated storage solution for mobile devices). It also seems way more likely to me that the cloud services would allow for removing the tether between the iOS device you own and your computer by allowing you to download and install updates from the cloud and register to the cloud etc.



    How many more iOS devices would sell if they could remove the requirement for someone to already have a computer before you buy one? It seems like that might be an enormous number.



    I think the current idea that the cloud is just going to be a big storage area for your desktop computer or your entire iTunes media library, (with presumably a scale of "storage plans" depending on how much stuff you have), is both shortsighted and "old-fashioned" thinking.
  • Reply 7 of 74
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,449member
    Let's face it. What ever Apple do with this, all the others; Google, RIM, Microsoft, H.P. et al, will suddenly have an epiphany and realize that was just what they were about to do too ...
  • Reply 8 of 74
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by tundraboy View Post


    iPod, iPhone, iPad. These are like booster rockets that have been attached to Apple's stock price. And now even before iPhone and iPad has fizzled out, we now have iCloud. Another round of dizzying increases for AAPL, anyone?



    Uh, no. Apple makes it's money selling software-enabled physical products. iCloud is a "booster rocket" for those products but can't be a substitute. It's like iTunes in general. Sure Apple makes good money selling music and apps, but it's pocket change compared to the money they make from the hardware that benefits from the software.
  • Reply 9 of 74
    malaxmalax Posts: 1,598member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    How many more iOS devices would sell if they could remove the requirement for someone to already have a computer before you buy one? It seems like that might be an enormous number.



    I think the current idea that the cloud is just going to be a big storage area for your desktop computer or your entire iTunes media library, (with presumably a scale of "storage plans" depending on how much stuff you have), is both shortsighted and "old-fashioned" thinking.



    That's an excellent point and would be a real game changer. My mother in law wanted to get an iPad to replace her MacBook, and we advised her against it. Today an iPad can't effectively be your only computer-like device. I suspect that Jobs has an eye on a near future where the typical household has a few iPads/iPhones and zero traditional PCs or Macs. This massive data center could be an enabler of this vision.
  • Reply 10 of 74
    MacProMacPro Posts: 18,449member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Costly flash memory? $1/GB isn't expensive at all IMO compared to potential data overage charges if you're relying on iCloud over-the-air.



    http://www.isuppli.com/Memory-and-St...te-Drives.aspx



    Given I use 1 or 2 TB drives now as my basic drive size needs for what I do I'd say your cost estimate would scare the pants of me Until Flash Memory is down to a tenth of that (and even then) this looks an interesting addition service to me.





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    I think that the media's emphasis on the iTunes part of the future cloud services is leading everyone astray. Given that Apple hasn't actually announced anything, the assumption that what they will announce all has to do with iTunes and cloud-based music and video storage might turn out to be quite wrong.



    It seems far more likely to me, (and far more doable), to have the cloud component work as a slightly enhanced version of the way iDisk works now (i.e. - a simple integrated storage solution for mobile devices). It also seems way more likely to me that the cloud services would allow for removing the tether between the iOS device you own and your computer by allowing you to download and install updates from the cloud and register to the cloud etc.



    How many more iOS devices would sell if they could remove the requirement for someone to already have a computer before you buy one? It seems like that might be an enormous number.



    I think the current idea that the cloud is just going to be a big storage area for your desktop computer or your entire iTunes media library, (with presumably a scale of "storage plans" depending on how much stuff you have), is both shortsighted and "old-fashioned" thinking.



    Agreed! I have been saying from iPad launch that the day may well come that a cloud service will replace the need for a mother ship locally. I can see Apple providing a special cloud based log in area that can actively perform services remotely just as the Mac does now for an iOS device. Not just be a passive storage system. New purchases (at an airport for example) would be able to get up and running simply by logging to an automated 'virtual dock'. This could go even further and even allow a remote boot for Lion based Macs if required.



    As I said earlier ... What ever Apple do with this, all the others; Google, RIM, Microsoft, H.P. et al, will suddenly have an epiphany and realize that was just what they were about to do too ...
  • Reply 11 of 74
    chromoschromos Posts: 190member
    For those of us who can remember, this would actually be the third time it's been overhauled, as .Mac was the rebranding of the original iTools.
  • Reply 12 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


    For Apple, a move away from MobileMe and towards iCloud would mark the second time the company has completely overhauled its suite of Internet services. Initially dubbed .Mac and targeted at the company's computer install base, the service was revamped and renamed MobileMe alongside the release of the iPhone 3G in 2008, introducing push email, push contacts and push calendars to its existing suite of web apps.



    Not to get too technical on the details, but won't this be the third overhaul, the product started as a free service called iTools. Then revamped to .Mac. Then to MobileMe.
  • Reply 13 of 74
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post


    Let's face it. What ever Apple do with this, all the others; Google, RIM, Microsoft, H.P. et al, will suddenly have an epiphany and realize that was just what they were about to do too ...



    Great comment. I agree.



    And, we'll be bombarded with snide comments about how Microsoft originally thought of it (despite their inability to implement it in any way, shape or form), HP's CEO said it was the company's future waaaay before Apple's CEO did (despite their having spent billions on some cloud company with absolutely nothing to show for it so far), how Amazon was first to do it (despite their inability to get permissions from record companies, and the darn thing already dying on users a couple of times), etc etc.



    Can't wait to see how Prof. Jobs teaches the industry a lesson again.
  • Reply 14 of 74
    Fourth, if you count eworld...





    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nytesky View Post


    Not to get too technical on the details, but won't this be the third overhaul, the product started as a free service called iTools. Then revamped to .Mac. Then to MobileMe.



  • Reply 15 of 74
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Prof. Peabody View Post


    It seems far more likely to me, (and far more doable), to have the cloud component work as a slightly enhanced version of the way iDisk works now (i.e. - a simple integrated storage solution for mobile devices). It also seems way more likely to me that the cloud services would allow for removing the tether between the iOS device you own and your computer by allowing you to download and install updates from the cloud and register to the cloud etc.



    Well they have been very careful on iOS devices not to include a file browser, and to have each app manage it's own documents. Perhaps this approach foreshadows their intent to move documents to the cloud (if not apps themselves).
  • Reply 16 of 74
    asciiascii Posts: 5,941member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by nytesky View Post


    Not to get too technical on the details, but won't this be the third overhaul, the product started as a free service called iTools. Then revamped to .Mac. Then to MobileMe.



    Yes, the third. And quite exciting. It seems like Apple might have finally figured out where the Internet belongs in their grand scheme of things. Or maybe it's just another stab in the dark! But going back to an iName suggests a certain confidence.
  • Reply 17 of 74
    donlphidonlphi Posts: 214member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post


    Great comment. I agree.



    And, we'll be bombarded with snide comments about how Microsoft originally thought of it (despite their inability to implement it in any way, shape or form), HP's CEO said it was the company's future waaaay before Apple's CEO did (despite their having spent billions on some cloud company with absolutely nothing to show for it so far), how Amazon was first to do it (despite their inability to get permissions from record companies, and the darn thing already dying on users a couple of times), etc etc.



    Can't wait to see how Prof. Jobs teaches the industry a lesson again.



    In all fairness, I've been doing things in "THE CLOUD" for a long time. I've been sharing documents and syncing folders with different servers that could be accessed publicly or with password. I have been using Mac.com/MobileMe since the beginning of time, but honestly I don't find it to be that great. It's not user friendly.



    It has glitchy syncing (duplicating calendar dates and contacts, placing contacts into strange categories).



    Many of us have been paying $99 a year for nearly 10 years now. You would think it would finally be great. I've only been holding on to it because I want to keep my email address. It's like buying season tickets to the Cubs. You know they are going to lose, but you don't want to lose the good seats the year they finally make it to a World Series.



    I don't say this because I hate MobileMe, as it has gotten me out of a few document sharing binds, but the overall service is not worth $99 per year.



    I hope you are right and Steve and the rest of the Apple gang show us the way to the true cloud, but so far it has been a bust (IMO).
  • Reply 18 of 74
    scafe2scafe2 Posts: 61member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by donlphi View Post


    In all fairness, I've been doing things in "THE CLOUD" for a long time. I've been sharing documents and syncing folders with different servers that could be accessed publicly or with password. I have been using Mac.com/MobileMe since the beginning of time, but honestly I don't find it to be that great. It's not user friendly.



    It has glitchy syncing (duplicating calendar dates and contacts, placing contacts into strange categories).



    Many of us have been paying $99 a year for nearly 10 years now. You would think it would finally be great. I've only been holding on to it because I want to keep my email address. It's like buying season tickets to the Cubs. You know they are going to lose, but you don't want to lose the good seats the year they finally make it to a World Series.



    I don't say this because I hate MobileMe, as it has gotten me out of a few document sharing binds, but the overall service is not worth $99 per year.



    I hope you are right and Steve and the rest of the Apple gang show us the way to the true cloud, but so far it has been a bust (IMO).



    Excellent post, I couldn't agree more,....
  • Reply 19 of 74
    [greg][greg] Posts: 78member
    There are all kinds of possibilities with this. I'm very excited to see what Apple pulls out of their hat this time. Perhaps the vaunted pc-independent iOS device? With a robust enough cloud (as evidenced by the MASSIVE data center), it could be done!
  • Reply 20 of 74
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,896member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post


    Costly flash memory? $1/GB isn't expensive at all IMO compared to potential data overage charges if you're relying on iCloud over-the-air.



    http://www.isuppli.com/Memory-and-St...te-Drives.aspx



    Flash is relatively cheap and considered against today's data rates is a glorious bargain. However I don't even consider this to be even a secondary problem. Listed below are some really significant issues that I see as a big problem here.
    1. Security! There is simply no way for Apple to say your data will be secure. Further putting so much data into one location gives the thieves a lot of incentive to break in.

    2. Bandwidth! There simply isn't enough RF spectrum to service people running their own radio or TV channels. Without care we could end up with highly congested networks.

    3. Latency! Why wait for a successful network transfer when you can deal with files locally.

    4. Reliability/availability! There are simply to many places in this world where you will never have connectivity.

    Now realize this, I'm a Mobile Me. User right now! I use it to store pics and other stuff plus I sync via Mobile Me. I also have dropbox and Evernote but none of these is a replacement for local storage. What we really need is more flash in our iOS devices not less. That really doesn't discount the value of the cloud at all. It just reflects that the need for local storage and the cloud have nothing to do with each other.
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