Reports this week said Apple has purchased the domain name iCloud in preparation for a push into the growing cloud -based services market. Cloud computing allows users to store all their data on commercial servers and use products and applications without buying them.
To Debut at WWDC?
Sources told the website AppleInsider that the company will expand its MobileMe service that currently allows bookmarks, events and other data to be stored externally, and Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June could be the venue for launching a major cloud service initiative. An enhanced cloud service that includes photos, music, video and other personal data would not only tie Apple users into the iOS ecosystem but reduce the need for excessive flash memory on future Apple devices, AppleInsider noted.
The iPad tablet comes in 16, 32 or 64 gigabyte versions while the iPhone has 16 and 32 gigabyte models.
Two other published reports, in GigaOm and Digital Daily said Apple acquired iCloud.com from a Sweden-based company, Xcerion. That company recently changed its URL to CloudMe.com. The reports noted that Apple recently purchased a 500,000 square-foot facility in Maiden, NC, that could serve as the nerve center for the cloud operation.
Typically tight-lipped about any new product development, Apple did not respond to our requests by email for comment in time for publication.
The iCloud reports seem to offer a range of possibilities for Apple to further its already massive hold on mobile computing and media consumption.
The Sky's The Limit
"I expect 'iCloud' will support numerous offerings, ranging from online storage of files including iTunes, photos and video and personal documents to streaming services analogous to Amazon's CloudPlayer," said Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT. "Given the storage limitations of Apple's iPad and iPhone, such services should be welcomed by the company's customers and could also inspire a generation of apps that leverage Apple's infrastructure . Not to sound glib but given the size of Apple's footprint in digital media, the sky's the limit for iCloud.
King said that rather than cut into Apple's sales of music, movies and TV shows and apps through iTunes, iCloud could be positioned as complimentary to the download service.
"For years now, a constant complaint about Apple has been the difficulty of backing-up iTunes files and/or restoring files after a device has broken down or been stolen," he said. "Automatically storing iTunes files in an iCloud 'locker' would effectively address that issue, reinforce the symbiotic relationship between the company and its customers and drive years- or even decades-long revenue streams for Apple."
A new report by Forrester Research projects that the cloud market for public and private sectors could explode from $40.7 billion this year to $241 billion by 2020.