In the days where MP3 players were a dime a dozen, everyone was scrambling to pick the best device. There were dozens of, perhaps too many choices – some had large storage. Others had better interfaces, or supported different file formats. Some even played (gasp) CDs. But when Apple released the iPod that all changed. Apple made it dirt simple for anyone to plug in an MP3 Player, and nobody had to manually copy files to get them to sync. It worked across multiple operating systems and “just worked.” Soon Apple added a music store to make it easy for music labels to get their music onto these devices, and people were sold everywhere on what an amazing device this was. I’m going to make a prediction, but knowing Apple I don’t think it’s very bold to say: iCloud, which launches tomorrow, will do the same for “the Cloud” as the iPod did for MP3s.
Think about it – there are dozens of cloud options available out there. Microsoft started with their Mesh platform for syncing files across multiple devices and servers. Soon, services like Dropbox came about, making it possible to sync files to the internet. Now we see dozens of “cloud” music services popping up. Google just launched Google Music. Amazon has their Cloud Player. I use a service called Spotify, which isn’t even available in the USA yet. We’re in a similar era to the MP3 right now.
However, right now all these Cloud services are hacks. With Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player I have to manually upload all my music to them to use their Cloud service (unless I buy the music from them, in Amazon’s case). On services like Dropbox I have to manually set up the file syncing, and it gets expensive the more I upload. Like the MP3 players of old, there’s simply too much work to get “the Cloud” to work on any of these services.
However, Apple has the ability and the talent to build a system that, just like the iPod, “just works.” Imagine turning on your Apple TV and being able to buy a movie, but never having to worry about downloading it anywhere. Add to that just inserting a DVD into your superdrive, having it recognize such, and having it added to your library, which doesn’t matter if it’s on your computer’s hard disk or in the cloud. Or what about photo storage? What about the apps you run on your iPhone, or on your computer, and the files they store on those devices?
As of tomorrow, the concept of a “disk” will be gone. You won’t even think about where on your computer you need to store things – they will just save, and you’ll be able to access them with ease, from wherever you are, whatever computer or device you are on. You won’t have to think about that part of your computer again – no “My Computer”. No C: drive or root directory or user directory. No “My Documents”. No “My Pictures”. Heck, maybe even no “Applications.” It will just be “save” and “search”. Nothing else to ever think about again.
It could be bigger though – think of my “web with no login button” concept I’ve mentioned before. Imagine an operating system that detected the files and apps and music and media on your personal “cloud”, and brought those things into each website’s experience as you visit from site to site. Or what if you’re walking down the street, it detects the NFC from your phone, and pulls those files into the signs and places you’re walking past (all hopefully with privacy controls, of course). That’s where an interconnected Apple based on the cloud could take us.
Of course, we have yet to see what Apple releases tomorrow, but no matter what happens, we know Apple will innovate. They will likely take us to a new understanding of “cloud”, and it will “just work,” just like every other product they produce. I can’t wait to see what they have come up with.