The Cloud is Here

Tomorrow at their World Wide Developer’s Conference, Apple is set to announce their new iCloud service that will allow users to keep a copy of all their music content on the cloud and make it accessible over the web from anywhere (so long as it’s an apple device). The usual rumor sites have been working overtime, and as the date drew nearer even “the real news outlets” like The Wall Street Journal have been reporting that the announcement will be announced on Monday.

Even Apple’s own shroud of secrecy was officially lifted and they have officially announced that iCloud WILL be announced tomorrow. Perhaps they’re beginning to realize that total secrecy is impossible?

iCloud has been anticipated for a long time, and most of the details seem to be already known (even the pricing, which seems to be possibly set to $25 a year). Amazon and Google have both already launched their cloud music services. Google is of course calling their’s a Beta, but we all know that to Google every service has the potential to be in Beta for years.

Google Music Player on a Nexus One

Google Music Player on a Nexus One

Google has been obviously anticipating Apple’s announcement as well. During last week I received my email invitation to join the Google Music Beta, which will be free for however long the Beta period turns out to be. After downloading the small required app on my mac, it started to pump my iTunes library up to Google’s massive servers.

Browsing Albums on Google Music

Browsing Albums on Google Music

Well, 2/3rds of my iTunes Library. I have been using the iTumes Music Store from launch and none of the tracks I purchased at the beginning are compatible with Google Music. Newer tracks are fine, and I suspect that if I had paid Apple for the premium to upgrade my older track to DRM free when things transitioned some time ago that all my content would be compatible today.

Google Music on Safari

Google Music on Safari

I’ve been exclusively using ipods since the first generation 5GB device and DRM never got in my way until this week. All of a sudden I find myself with a fairly good cloud service running on my Android phone that can only see 2/3rds of my music and wondering if Apple’s service is much of an alternative considering that I would have to move using an iPhone to take full advantage of that option. Going to an iPhone isn’t even really an option for me since I am still enjoying TMobile’s amazing data plan prices.

Amidst all this pre-WWDC media frenzy, I noticed a very interesting video clip. MacRumors posted a short piece this morning about what the potential new functionality of TimeCapsules will mean to Apple’s Cloud service. The small network appliances might actually end up doing a lot of the heavy lifting for Apple’s iCloud synching.

Interesting enough, but at the end of the post is a video that was even more interesting to me.

As noted by MyService, Apple’s idea of a local cloud network dates back twenty years, with Steve Jobs having detailed some of the advantages of such a setup during a Q&A session at WWDC in 1997. (Discussion begins at around 13:10 mark.)

The video is Steve Jobs from the 1997 WWDC Q&A answering questions from the developers (something that has completely disappeared from his keynote). It is interesting to see him describe the basic idea for iCloud at such an early date, but if you hang around past that question there is a few more interesting bits.

  • Jobs is asked if Apple could ever compete against the giants that were Microsoft and Intel at the time (Apple is now worth more than Microsoft AND Intel COMBINED)
  • Steve had a T1 connection at home — suitably impressive
  • Steve is pitching the concept that small developers should embrace Apple tools to easily develop apps. This low cost to market and exposure to a loyal audience could make small developers a very good living. — Hello iOS and Mac App Stores.
  • Steve says that Apple should license everything, but a get a fair price from the mac clone makers. — Too bad that he would make the decision to end the clone program the very next year.
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