Apple (APPL) just announced iCloud, its long-rumored cloud-based backup service. No, scratch that: Apple announced that it will announce iCloud at this Monday's Worldwide Developer's Conference. Why is Apple announcing its upcoming announcements? Amazon (AMZN) and Google (GOOG) are moving way too fast for the tech giant to keep up. Apple is scared.
The iCloud Announcement's Announcement
According to Apple Insider, Apple's brief iCloud announcement came in the wee hours of this morning. It simply called iCloud "Apple's upcoming cloud services offering" and gave no further details. The official announcement will be this Monday, 10 a.m. PST, in San Francisco.
Today's iCloud note was scant on info, but enough information has leaked to figure out the details:
- It will backup and sync your data across multiple Apple platforms, similar to the Apple pay service MobileMe. It is unclear if it will replace MobileMe, but either way the $99 backup/syncing service MobileMe will probably go free to bring in more customers.
- Apple reportedly wrapped up negotiations with the four major music companies to give iTunes users live streaming of their collection.
- By focusing on cloud-based services, the next generation of iPods will likely have less memory and be even more compact.
So, why did Apple announce its service a week early? Its competitors are all over the cloud space. Apple realized that it needed to react as soon as possible to the rapidly-developing area.
- Amazon: The sales giant launched its Amazon Cloud Music service three months ago. It offers 5 GB of free music space and delivers to virtually any phone or music player with Wi-Fi or 3G. It's a threat for two reasons: One, it has enough products to cross-sell to its own digital music store, and, two, it is big enough to do insane sales, like the $.99 Lady Gaga album deal that literally took down the website. On another front, Amazon launched its own cloud-based Mac app store last week -- and gave users $5 to try it out.
- Google: Apple's biggest adversary is the ultimate cloud company right now: Google Docs is a great online Microsoft (MSFT) Word alternative, the new Chrome OS Netbooks are completely cloud-based computers, and, like Amazon, Google Cloud Music already does what iCloud is expected to deliver.
- Dropbox: As I discussed on BNET's The Live One, the four-million-strong backup service gives 2 GB free - plenty for the average customer. Better yet, free Dropbox app sync documents across multiple home and mobile platforms. For iCloud, chances are extremely high it will only work with Apple devices, a la MobileMe.