Old school Apple-fan Thomas Brand has used Apple's cloud services -- iTools, then .Mac, then MobileMe, and soon iCloud -- for nearly 10 years. He says the most important part of the service was the identity that came with having an @Mac.com email address -- a way to differentiate from the @hotmail.com and @yahoo.com email accounts of the world.
Brand points out that even though there were free alternatives to MobileMe, "the big difference between MobileMe and the free competition is the respect a paying customer is provided."
Google's users are never their customers. Google's customers are advertisers. When you trust your online identity to Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo! you are trusting their customers, the advertisers, stay interested in you. I would rather pay for trust, then base my online identity on the profitability of click-through ads.
MobileMe is becoming a free service once again, but Apple customer's will continue to be its users. iCloud the replacement for MobileMe is going to remain exclusive to users of Apple's products. Apple is positioning iCloud as a feature that comes with its hardware, the price of which secures iCloud's revenue model, and its immediate future. Nothing is certain in web services, but at least with iCloud's model of syncing you control the data locally on your own machine at all times. If there is a lesson in why I pay for MobileMe it is to purchase what you feel is valuable but control what you value most. I hope Apple continues to offer online services that allow me to do just that.
iCloud isn't exactly free -- the price is just built into the products that you're already buying.
In its Q3 earnings call, Apple revealed that it was going to defer revenue from iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Mac purchases to cover the cost of access to iCloud. Apple has determined that the value of iCloud access is $16 for iPhone and iPad purchases, $11 for iPod Touch, and $22 for Mac (though that includes possible feature additions to Lion as well) and will recognize that value over two years to cover its costs.
Top Rated Comments
Apple's goal is $ from creating the best possible user experience.
Better downtime than no privacy.
Apple collects info, and uses it to sell ads, yes, as a minor side-project. Not as their entire business model the way Google sells ads. That is not a minor distinction; it's key to understanding the strategies and motivations of both companies.
When you say Apple’s primary motivation is to “lock customers in,” that’s an easy buzz phrase, but you can’t pretend they’re “locking people in” who want to escape to something better. They really DO make their money by providing a good user experience. Lock-in is irrelevant without that. How would they “lock people in” if their products weren’t great? You’d have a mass of unhappy customers—and you have to admit: what we actually see is the opposite.
And it’s easy to look at “lock-in” in a simple, emotionally-loaded way, but reality is seldom that simple. Apple has multiple different reasons for linking products together in an ecosystem; forcing customers not to jump ship is a simple, but wrong, explanation.
Apple is often VERY open about letting you out of their ecosystem (they pushed hard to get DRM removed from iTunes music, and they’ve built an awesome, 100% open app platform—Mobile Safari, a web app platform which ironically even Google has not matched). Just as Google works very hard to keep you IN their ecosystem (like cloning Facebook and blocking competitors’ location services from use by handset makes). In other words, both companies do both things.
You’ll notice that Apple “lock in” (like only allowing curated iPhone app installation, officially) often has very real user benefits. It’s not just arbitrary greed—you won’t find a pattern of lock-in for its own sake if you look at the facts honestly. You’ll find a pattern of "lock-in" (which is often not all that locked at all) for the sake of real benefits: things that work well together. You can’t point to ANY competitor who has phone hardware, desktop hardware, tablet hardware OS, apps, music/video store, and cloud all working together as a unified whole in any way CLOSE to the excellence Apple has achieved. Yes, that comes at a price—not by greed alone, but because things that are tied together sometimes WORK better together.
The problems of Apple’s “closed” method are real. Can you deny that the benefits are real, and huge, and not greed alone? Can you deny that this model of Apple’s has worked well for users too? Can you deny that it has led to things (like Android) that would not exist without Apple’s lead to copy?
So nobody should ever hope for Apple’s ecosystem model to fail: it serves most people really well, and the alternatives are even more flawed. It also serves as the basis for many good things that so-called “open” companies then copy. Google’s a great choice for some, and I wish them success with Android. Apple, it is clear, is a better choice for most.