Much has already been written about Apple’s new and yet undisclosed iCloud service, and their North Carolina data centre which is believed to be powering the service.
Many are hoping for a super dooper service that will enable iOS users to be able to stream their music in a simple and elegant way, and may be even movies and tv shows. Well, if it does that, iCloud will already be providing a much needed service.
However, that alone is not sufficient, iCloud needs to be able to do much more than that. The iPad, and to some degree, the iPhone, are new devices that allow us to work and collaborate in different ways than before. If you think about one of the principal benefits of the iPad, is that it allows you to replace paper with electronic data.
Having electronic access to all your documents is a great boon, it’s much more convenient than paper from a search, archival, collaboration and sharing point of view. So if we want to use our iPad instead of paper, we need to understand some of the use cases for that.
Imagine I’ve been working on a presentation on my computer and I want to discuss it with a colleague. I can email it to them, I can print it, or ideally I can access it on my iPad. Here’s where things can go very wrong.
If I start having multiple copies flying around, I loose track of what’s update and lose time, it’s a fail. If it’s a pain to transfer from my PC to my iPad and visa versa, it’s a fail. That must be easy.
With that in mind, Apple could conceivably implement two different solutions:
- A shared drive space like DropBox or iDisk.
- A syncing solution like Evernote with export to file and email as required.
I really think that evernote has shown the power of synchronization, and of how easy it is to create something on one device and have access to that across multiple devices. Apple could augment this with online collaboration environments such as it proposes today with iWork.com.
Now scale this concept up more, Apple should offer this service as an open API so that other application developers can develop their apps to sync with it, and user data remains in one safe place with proven synchronization technologies.
This service should be a freemium service with 2GB available for free, and then a month charge. Pro accounts could offer additional services such as file versioning.
iOS offers an opportunity to start moving away from the desktop metaphor, that’s why I believe a DropBox style service would be the wrong path for Apple. If they think about it, they can surely put their mind to creating a really powerful and elegant solution.
So, will the do it? My gut feeling says that they’ll be too taken up with the immediate problem of music streaming, but this is not the real issue for them. The real issue is being able to access information across all devices in a straightforward manner, and I think they will miss this opportunity to move streets ahead of the competition and provide a fantastic user experience