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.
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