Apple’s Vision of the Cloud and why its flawed

Apple's iCloud Service

Yesterday, Apple announced its new iCloud service along with a lot of improvements to the Max OS X and iOS 5, and while I did like what I saw, there are a number of reasons I may not use it.

First, what I liked:

  1. I like Apple’s vision of the cloud, as against Google’s. I don’t think the cloud is going to replace our rich applications. Having used both cloud as well as native rich apps – rich apps are here to stay the cloud will make them stronger. They are a lot easier to use, documents look a lot better and they are far more handy. A browser based app may be present as a fallback option when you don’t have anything handy but that’s far from becoming the default.
  2. I like Apple’s cloud being a personal cloud rather than complicating with as a “family cloud” or “friends cloud”where everything automatically gets shared with everybody. I think that just befuddles the hell out of things and these have never taken off.
  3. The iCloud makes the cloud wire-free. You no longer need to connect your PC / iPhone / iPad and sync all of them. Just importing pictures from a camera is such a big chore usually and Apple’s a master at cutting out chores.
  4. The iTunes Match service is a killer. Of course, I still wonder how they managed to negotiate out such a deal with the music publishers but the fact that they did, and hid all the junk under the carpet is very commendable.
And now, what I don’t like:
  1. Apple’s Cloud is closed. It essentially locks me in to Apple’s technology. As a person, I like to keep trying out new things – I use a
    PC, an iPad and a Blackberry and I am usually happier to navigate diversity, and the iCloud service means that I either need to change my habits or look for alternatives (Hey you dropbox, instapaper, remember the milk – you still have a future!). I would like to write a document on my PC – read it on my iPad, edit it there and use it on the go with my Blackberry. With Apple’s iCloud, my world would begin and end with Apple, which is a compromise I am unwilling to make.
  2. Apple iCloud doesn’t give me any integration options. There doesn’t seem to be a way for app developers to retrieve stuff from the cloud onto other platforms. This is precisely why I don’t use Google’s Buzz but I use facebook or twitter – because they are everywhere!
  3. I still can’t get over MS Office. I have not really found an alternative that can make me switch – openoffice, google office, pages – and I really wonder if I will be able to use anything else for sometime to come.
  4. iTunes doesn’t support enough regional content, and I hardly buy any music from there as a result. There’s a whole world out there beyond what we see – and I wouldn’t want to close my ears to it. Also, I would want my content to be available on my non Apple devices. And they may not be as good today, but I wouldn’t want to rule out innovation.
  5. Apple doesn’t give me a fallback web based interface for accessing my cloud stuff – a lot of times, I end up checking my mail from others computers since I travel a lot and find myself in places where Wifi is locked and I don’t have a data plan on my iPad/phone. I want at least some way to check things out.
I guess, I just like way too much diversity and I will continue to use all the other services that I used earlier – and use the iCloud only for things which don’t lock me in.

The new Microsoft “I’m A PC!”

Microsoft just released their retort to Apple’s “I’m a PC and I’m a Mac” ad — and one must say that the ads are absolutely cool!

Microsoft has chosen to use the opening line from Apple’s ad — and turn it into their strength. The ad first shows a (real) Microsoft employee, Sean Siler, saying “I’m a PC” and then goes on to parade a lot of cool people — many of whom are celebrities (one can spot Deepak Chopra, Bill Gates, Eva Langoria, Tony Parker) saying how they use a PC too and they live the new Microsoft Maxim Life without Walls.

These follow the disappointing Bill Gates – Jerry Seinfeld that nobody got — Microsoft has chosen to call them the ice-breaker to start conversation about the PC.

See the ads here:

What a reply! This is adverti-zing !

Three Men in a Conference Room

What’s worse than Three Men in a Boat? Three Men in a Conference Room [This could have been made into a MTV quiz question]. Full points for guessing that correct.

However, that’s not quite the best answer. It’s ‘Three Men who claim to do research in Computer Science but having many other varied interests sitting huddled together in a Conference Room when nobody’s watching and working on the giant problem of figuring out what it means to do a single unit of work’. That’s not very succinct. So, let’s just stick with ‘Three Men in a Conference Room’ (which pretty much describes it anyway). So, if you have been using your brains on steroids, you must have already guessed the protagonists of the story. Let’s call them – M, G and K.

When you are discussing extremely esoteric abstruse concepts like what it means do so some work, the conversation can take many turns, meandering around with flippant frequency, confusing everybody involved. Sometimes, verse gets thrown in:

K: So, we have to keep track of everything – the job, the task, the assignment, the activity, the process, the worker, the employer, the system, and (of course) the gig. Check the thesaurus — are their any others that we need to consider?

M: But, you forgot the solution. What are we doing the whole exercise for?

G: (non-chalantly) Job Kar beta, Solution ki chinta mat kar [Do the Job, don’t worry about the solution — an oft (mis)-quoted verse of the Bhagwad Gita]

M: And the activity is the meta-level concept and lives on

G: The tasks keep coming and going for each activity.

K: (Reminiscing) As Tennyson had said: For Jobs may come and Jobs may go, Activities go on forever.

M: (ExasperatedMinutes to write before I sleep, Minutes to go before I sleep

As you can very well imagine, this does not bode very well for human sanity.

The conversation meandered to outsourcing. We are such hypocrites because we teach children to do everything themselves, and when they grow up they are taught words like outsourcing and core-competency (Child: Mommy, hygiene really is not my core-competency. Maybe I can just outsource bathing to you)  — and we concluded with err… (ah, yes!) the conclusion that an extreme form of outsourcing would be when Apple Computer is stripped down to one person — Steve Jobs.

In the company of friends – Gates and Jobs

Another article at Desicritics. 

Would not rate my writing very high since I wrote it when I was half asleep, but I wanted to write about this monumental meeting between the two titans and so there it is.

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