Beta. Step by step. Baby steps. Slow and easy. Snakebit. Cautious. All of the above can be used to describe portions of Apple’s roll out of iCloud. Of course that roll out is coming into a world where Apple is not only playing catch up to Google, but increasingly is full of consumers demanding instant results and gratification.
I find it almost schizophrenic comparing how easy it has been for Apple to jettison older hardware technology for what it deems will be the future. But then hardware and Cloud services are very different animals. While we want everything to work all the time, I’m not sure what is more frustrating and raises more ire, a piece of hardware that fails, or a Cloud Service that we can’t connect to or that doesn’t sync properly. Also keep in how ever may schizoid minds you have that Apple rolled out its first iPhone on EDGE, when the world was moving quickly into 3G. I’m not sure if Apple, “we serve no wine before its time” approach will work in this case. But the early numbers may prove me wrong. That said, it will be how many stay with iCloud that eventually matters.
Suffice it to say, Apple appears to be taking baby steps in its roll out of iCloud. Burned by the MobileMe failure, it doesn’t want to make that mistake again. That’s understandable and on many levels admirable. But it sure is frustrating, and potentially self defeating when much of what iCloud promises can be had using an Android device or Dropbox on any device.
Take for example Apple’s productivity suite, iWorks. While you can easily send documents to iCloud from an iDevice, there hasn’t yet been and update to Pages, Numbers, or Keynote that allows you to easily open the documents from those Apps. (They used to be called Applications.) Instead you have to open the documents in iCloud in a browser and download them to your laptop or desktop. Once you edit them there, you need to re-upload them again. (Unless I’m missing something and if I am please tell me.)
The bottom line here is that, at the moment, you can’t access documents on all of your devices without jumping through some hoops that don’t exist on Android if you use Google Docs, or on iDevices or Android if you use Dropbox. So, for that kind of cloud magic, I’d say that currently iCloud is more like a low hanging fog bank. Obviously that will change at some point, but will users have moved on by the time it does?
The same could be said about Siri, which Apple clearly labels as a Beta. Obviously, Apple needs to do some back end work to keep the servers up, at least under the initial honeymoon period. I noticed on Twitter this morning that one pundit got a server overloaded message while he was on live TV talking about Siri. That’s not great PR for the great PR machine.
And then there’s another tent pole in the iCloud, called iTunes Music Match. It hasn’t been turned on yet, and when it does that will be a server-side hit as well, although theoretically we won’t have to do all that uploading that other services require. Who knows how much of a back end issue the eventual roll out of movies will be.
Photostream seems like a great idea, but I find it problematic because you can’t really manage photos in your stream without clearing out the entire stream.
So, while Apple is taking its time, in theory to make sure things are working well, it is doing so at a time where consumers have other existing alternatives that sate the “I want it now” appetite, in a fast paced world of mobile tech that seems to be getting faster by the second.
Well, except for that small thing called broadband speeds here in the US.