Commentary

Facts Will Soon Descend From The iClouds

The eyes of the many are upon San Francisco this morning, where Steve Jobs is scheduled to take a leave from his medical leave to address Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference. We know that Apple will preview its new operating system, Lion, as well as iOS5 and its new iCloud® service, because it said it would in a rare conference preview press release last week. But we don't know much more-specifically speaking-beyond that. That isn't, of course, stopping people from informing us about what they don't actually know.

Forrester Research's Frank Gillett tells Bloomberg's Adam Satariano that the new service may improve how users can access content across different Apple devices, which presumably "will keep customers from defecting" to competing cloud services, particularly Google.

"The world we're headed to is where you don't have to think about which gadget has your stuff," Gillett says. "As people get their content organized around one of these personal ecosystems, then it will be incredibly sticky because migrating won't be convenient."

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As if it is currently.

Satarianopoints out that Apple's current foray into Web-based services, MobileMe, got off to a slow start and, despite 3 million users, has been considered one of its clunkier product efforts. The new service reportedly will let people access their iTunes song libraries from any Apple device through the Internet and will also automatically synchronize machines such as desktops, laptops, iPhones, iPads, iPods or iYetToBeInventeds.

As Verne G. Kopytoff writes in The New York Times this morning, online storage has become a bigger issue as devices proliferate. "When people had only one or two computers, file sharing wasn't a big worry," he says. "Now, gaining access to personal files is a chore for people who own an arsenal of computers, smartphones and tablets."

Indeed, almost 60% of adults with online access have at least two Internet connected devices, according to Forrester, and about 4.5 million people (about 3%) have at least nine gizmos with which to work and wile away the hours.

Time's "Techland" blogger Giles Turnbull tells us that respected Apple blogger John Gruber has a slightly different informed take on what exactly iCloud is: "Nothing short of a new iTunes."

Truth is, one really never knows what innovation lurks in the mind of Apple. Gruber goes on to tell us this is "fourth-hand" information and that, despite the fact that the company itself has uncharacteristically given us a few clues to work with, "If I were to publish everything I know...it would be a short and decidedly unsensational article."

There is, thankfully, light at the end of the infinitely confusing speculative tunnel and it comes in the form of Apple's tradition of keeping things simple, Computerworld's "Apple Holic" blogger Jonny Evans says:

"While the solutions presented may well be technically complex, what's happening at the front end -- and what we'll see explained across most of the marketing -- will be explained in simple terms. We won't discuss too much the military grade security governing data or music streaming sessions online, we'll talk about access to our data. Access, simplicity, convenience, 'isn't it amazing?' That kind of thing."

As we bite our fingernails waiting for the big announcement to unfold on the West Coast, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak provides a little perspective about our not-too-distant future that's worth a bit of rumination.

Wozniak told a business conference in Australia on Friday that we are getting close to a point where computer brains will equal the cerebral prowess of humans, according to International Business Times. When that happens, "humans will generally withdraw into a life where they will be pampered into a system almost perfected by machines, serving their whims and effectively reducing the average men and women into human pets."

Quoth The Woz: "We're already creating the superior beings, I think we lost the battle to the machines long ago."

Woof.

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