When Apple’s legendary Worldwide Developers Conference rolled around earlier this month, I must admit that I was personally a tad disappointed at the lack of new hardware that many expected to be unveiled. Like many, I myself was secretly wishing that the company would unveil the next generation Apple iPhone. However, even without the presence of new hardware to show off, Apple’s developer conference wasn’t a blow by any stretch of the imagination.
One of the things that I found most intriguing was the “iCloud” service, which is expected to be unveiled a bit later this year. The ability to seamlessly synchronize files and collaborate efficiently with other users is a very promising development. Even though some will argue that Apple mimicked and stole ideas from other developers, I must say that the cleanliness of how things appear to be tied together make the upcoming service something that I believe will be an instant hit with consumers.
Having said this, even though iCloud hasn’t officially been released for general use by day-to-day users as of yet, I’m already wondering how long it will be until we see iCloud blossom out beyond a solely consumer-focused product into something able and ready to take on the cloud communications and collaboration needs of enterprises and even government agencies.
Just this week, Google became the exclusive cloud provider for the entire executive branch of the Wyoming state government. This comes after years of developing consumer and small/medium-business communications tools. With the cloud developments of Microsoft and even traditional software companies like VMware working on their own cloud-computing solutions, there is no doubt that the “cloud” field is a big target for many companies and quite obviously very profitable industry.
Having said this, even if Apple never built iCloud with the thought of expanding it into the business and government fields – and I’m pretty sure a company as large as Apple wouldn’t overlook such thing – it would be awfully wasteful of the company not to follow the money with business cloud services.
Really, businesses are flocking to the cloud left and right because the ability to have a more stable and readily available platform at a price often-times lower than what it costs to run similar systems in-house is simply too good to pass up. But when businesses (like the one I work for) evaluate cloud and out-sourced IT infrastructure, one of the things they always look at is the history of the company and service to ensure that they are capable of handling all of their needs. While developers such as Microsoft and VMware are typically seen as trustworthy and stable enough to handle business needs. For Apple, however, there may be a different case.
You see, iCloud will have to be on the market for a while before it can gain any reputation; good or bad. Even worse, Apple as a company doesn’t have a great history as a cloud provider. MobileMe, and .Mac before that were both services that many would consider to be “duds.” Would or will companies hold this against Apple?
At the same time, Apple already has a great standing in the business field. In only a few years the Apple iPhone has managed to become a big player in the smartphone market and is used by both consumers and businesses alike. The Apple Macintosh and even newer developments such as the iPad have made their way into businesses and have done very well, at that. That in mind, Apple isn’t in all that bad of a position.
What do you think? Would an Apple-drive business cloud product be a hit or a miss? Let us know in the comments!