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Apple’s Maiden Voyage Into the Cloud

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Apple’s (s aapl) billion-dollar data center being constructed on a 225 acre site near Highway 321 and Startown Road in Maiden, N.C., could play host to a number of services. So, what are the likely candidates for what Apple will be doing with this new facility? With WWDC just one week away, Apple staffing of the new facility, and given the fact that all of the hype about what everyone already knows that Steve is going to introduce before he has a chance to introduce it, there are six very likely candidates for what Apple will announce as to what their intentions are in North Carolina.

Free MobileMe for Everyone! Well, Almost Everyone

When Apple first launched iTools back in 2000, the service was free to users of Mac OS 9. Then in 2002 it became a subscription based service and was renamed as .Mac. The trend continued and the online service now known as MobileMe continued as a subscription based service. Just recently Apple opened up a Beta program to show off some of the new features of this service. In order to compete with several of the online services that come bundled with many of the Google (s goog) supported Android devices, Apple my in fact return this to a free service for its customers.

MapKit replacement for Google Maps

Not much has been said about Apple’s 2009 acquisition of online mapping service PlaceBace. At the time, rumors ran rampant that Apple would be replacing Google Maps on the iPhone, iPod and now the iPad with this service. This shouldn’t be too terribly difficult to do in the iPhone’s SDK and the MapKit has abstracted such low-level services into an easy to use API.

iTunes in the Cloud

Recently Apple decided to shut down Lala, an online music service it acquired in 2009. Having a commanding lead in the iPod marketplace has not made Apple complacent in the least. Apple has continued to innovate its devices as well as its iTunes marketplace over the years. Perhaps its latest enhancement of the service was not as Genius as previously thought, and Apple is looking to continue its competitive edge by hosting its customers purchases in the cloud. Having iTunes in the cloud would make all purchases, past, present and future, all available to all devices from anywhere in the connected world.

iWork Beta

Almost two years in beta, and with the release of the now best-selling collection of iWork apps for the iPad, the future of iWork has never been brighter. The question remains, how long will this beta last? With some of the enhancements going on in the MobileMe space with the mail beta that is underway, and given the fact that successful services like DropBox are nipping at Apple’s iDisk heals, there is likely to be something announced, soon. It would not take much to best Google’s online document service, and shut Microsoft (s msft) out of this market for good by enabling even a halfway decent solution for the growing number of mobile customers that Apple has earned.


Let’s not forget the purchase of Quattro Wireless. This may have helped Google out here in the short-term, but Apple needs to make a long term investment in this endeavor. With the premiums that Apple is allegedly ready to charge companies that sign up for ad space on this service, that price tag had better include complementary hosting of the ads themselves. With one-hundred million devices likely to be in the hands of consumers when this service goes live, it will need some serious cloud power to handle the storm that is brewing come launch day.


Just recently, it has been discovered that Apple is interested in investing in sync capabilities with the cloud. Breaking away from the USB sync paradigm is something that all iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users would enjoy. This could be full sync, or be limited to its investment with Lala, or iWork, or both.

For those interested in cloud computing or data centers, check out our Structure conference in June.

10 Responses to “Apple’s Maiden Voyage Into the Cloud”

  1. Dwyane Hicks

    My experiences with MobileMe, synching, the cloud, and the associated Apple customer service has been less than stellar. In fact those experiences have been completely product deflating.

  2. I agree with those who say Genius was a sop to the RIAA. Nothing more. And getting little push from Apple now that it’s in place.
    Some of these ideas are great. Time Machine in the Cloud is superior – especially if MobileMe is free to Apple hardware. iAd would fit here.
    Quit maundering over the passing of Flash. Like a significant number of even moderately savvy Netizens, I have Flash blockers on every browser I use. The html5 converter at YouTube [for example] already works well. Every YouTube video I use at the blogs I edit converts fine to html5 when I check on them.
    I agree on the number of links. I restrict links to 2 maximum per post on average – a rare 3rd.

  3. alfons

    piece of advice: you have too many links to other posts in your post. It kind of takes away from the reader focusing in on your post since they get tempted to click on the links.

    • Sorry about that. I will cut down on the number of links in my posts. There is a lot of references that back up the statements being made. But if it is distracting, I will find a better way to back up the points that are being made.

  4. Apple will be debuting their Cappuccino clone code named Gianduia. The reason Apple is trying to kill Flash is to give their own technology a chance to catch up. RIA is a crucial technology area where Google, Microsoft, and Adobe are pulling away from Apple.

  5. Larry

    I just want Time Machine to work. Of my 5 macs with SL (clean install) TM quit working on 3 of them. Various lame errors. I go to the Apple forums and I see many people with the same problem.

  6. Kraytn

    Time Machine is a great idea. I would love to see all of those mentioned. Not sure about the mapping. I love the google maps. I think Apple will utilize mapping layer overlays. That would be slick.

  7. My vote is for an update to Time Machine in 10.7 that will mirror your backups to a local hard drive and the cloud at the same time.