Goodbye, PC. Hello Personal Cloud. Thoughts on iCloud from an industry insider.

Apple’s recent announcement of their iCloud product fascinated me on two levels. First, it publicly showed why Apple is one of the most successful companies in recent history, it pivoted. After their failed attempts at the mobileme/idisk systems, they regrouped, re-envisioned, and seem to have produced an industry-beating product.

Second, if iCloud works as seamlessly as the rest of Apple’s product line-up does, they will have indeed laid to rest THE PC world and replaced it with a new PC world- the ‘Personal Cloud’ one.

As an industry insider I have witnessed how the entire IT industry has slowly inched and then jumped head first into the cloud fray. However, what the cloud meant to the average consumer, let alone understand it, was left to side for a long time on the basic reality that there is no common definition to what cloud is. And thats ok because there ARE dozens of technical paths that a company can take in order to offer cloud capabilities. But unless you are a serious geek, technical graphs and explanations is not what consumers are interested in.

Thus instead of focusing on what the cloud is, I pushed the communications of the IT firm I was involved with to focus on what the cloud does. I wanted to ensure that our customers would be far more fascinated and excited about the abilities of the cloud than simply what it was built on. Apparently not everyone seemed to agree with this tactic, as the first consumer-focused implementors of the cloud -Amazon, Netflix, Google, Pandora – failed to capitalize the cloud aura with their customers. They probably assumed it was too hard, too early, and too complex for the average consumer. And it is, if you focus on the technology alone. In my opinion Google should have branded Gmail as ‘powered by the cloud’ a long time ago and earned the badge of cloud pioneer in the minds of millions of consumers. Even Pandora, a perfectly simple ‘music everywhere’ cloud benefit could have taken the badge and brand power of being powered by the cloud.

But as it often happens in Silicon Valley, in spite of their failures Apple may end up having the very last laugh with the cloud through iCloud. Apart from the two or three pictures of their new datacenters, the iCloud presentation was thoroughly focused on what it does for the consumer. Without mentioning GB, RAM, ping-time, or bandwidth, Apple took a concept as ethereal as ‘the cloud’ and brought it down to the feet of consumers who will now expect everyone else in the tech industry to follow along with cloud-powered systems.

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