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Summary:

Are iCloud and iOS 5 just Apple playing catch-up with Google and Android? No way, according to Steve Jobs himself in 1997. In fact, the WWDC announcements are actually Apple making good on long-standing promises. Check out Jobs describing the Apple of today 14 years ago

icloud-1997

Updated. There’s some talk that iCloud and iOS 5 are examples of Apple playing catch-up with the competition from Google . Apple may have introduced some tricks that seem borrowed from Android, but iCloud, and Apple’s vision of how it will use broadband, has been a long time coming, according to this video of a much-less-guarded Steve Jobs delivering the closing keynote at Apple’s 1997 WWDC.

It’s a long video (over an hour) that merits a full watch if you haven’t seen it, but turn your attention specifically to around 16:30 to hear Jobs’ remarks about the future of computing, Gigabit Ethernet, and how “carrying around these non-connected computers [will seem] Byzantine.” Google may have gotten to the cloud first, but Apple’s had that bun in the oven for quite a while now.

Also be sure to check out Jobs’ comments around 12:00, when he discusses Apple’s image of being “different:”

If we can be much better without being different, that’d be fine with me.

Doubt Jobs is batting an eye at accusations of lifting from Android.

  1. Some people might look at iCloud and say that Google and Microsoft (and Apple with MobileMe) are already doing these things with Web apps and with push services like Exchange.

    iCloud is not the same thing as what Exchange currently does on Windows, Mac, and iOS devices. And it’s not the same as Google Web apps either.

    It’s more like a reversal of what, until now, has been considered “cloud” services.

    Google Docs, Mail, Picassa, etc. are Web apps run on Google’s servers. Those apps are run inside your Web browser, and are limited to what can be done in HTML5, and dependant on Google’s servers. The primary files are stored on Google’s servers too.

    iCloud reverses that. The apps run on your devices. They are full applications with versions designed for your specific device (e.g. Pages for Mac OS X, Pages for iPad, and Pages for iPhone are tailor made for each device). The files are stored on your device, and synced automatically between all of your devices.

    This means that you can work on a file even if you’re not connected to the Internet. When you do connect later, all of your devices have the changes immediately. It also means that you are not stuck using a Web interface as your common UI for all devices, and you don’t have to wait for a server to catch up with you when you make changes, or to refresh Web pages to see those changes (which happens sometimes).

    And with iCloud you don’t need to set up and babysit all of those services. No uploading and downloading to all the devices you use. It’s all done automatically in the background.

    The iCloud server is not a Web application host like Google’s and Microsoft’s, it’s actually a big invisible syncing machine for all of your devices.

    These differences might not sound like much, but the contrast in user experience between iCloud and Google’s/Microsoft’s Web apps is going to be VERY noticeable.

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  2. Intersted in the future of OSX? Catch the comments at 1:01:09 regarding continuing with the Newton … “Most companies can’t be successful with one stack of system software, rarely can they manage two.” It would be really interesting to hear Steve’s perspective on that comment at this point in time.

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    1. Richard Garrett Tuesday, June 7, 2011

      @Will White…Great observation. Jobs was talking about the Newton and his antipathy for scribbling his life into a little device. More importantly he was warning of the impossibility of developing and supporting three stacks of system software. The Newton would require an OS other than the Mac OS of the day (8.6) and Rhapsody (the OS that would ultimately allow Apple to transition from the 68xxx/PowerPC to Intel based processors and OS X). He believed that Apple could succeed managing two stacks of system software but not three. Sadly, the Newton had to go. I’m glad you pointed out the segment because to me it presaged the iOS devices and in particular the connected ones (iPhone and iPad). Even today Apple’s success is better insured by concentrating on only two system software stacks.

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  3. But remember iOS is built on a bare-bones OSX core.

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  4. The talk at ~48:00 is a powerful moment too. About PR vs. ads. I’m always impressed when there’s an article in the press about Apple. And just next to it, another company who paid ads space to get just a fraction of the attention Apple gets. And they are perfecting this at least since 1997.

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