Apple stores to sell Apollo 'personal cloud.' It's back to the future all over again

I thought we'd finally got to an understanding that the cloud is the best place to store consumer data. It seems I was wrong.

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News today from a justifiably proud Promise technology that Apple (yes, THAT Apple) is going to be selling Promise's Apollo "personal cloud appliance" at its stores globally. Any time Apple does anything it's a big deal so it is worth having a bit of background about Promise.

The company is a 25-year veteran of the storage industry. Traditionally active in the enterprise arena, it produces its own enterprise storage hardware and vertical offerings tailored to the video, rich media and other industries. It seems the enterprise wasn't quite enough for Promise and hence they've decided to enter the consumer market.

As I mentioned, Apollo, their market entry product, is a "personal cloud appliance." In other words, before the cloud became sexy it would have been called a big beefy external hard drive.

Of course, cloud is all the rage so now it's a personal cloud.

The idea of Apollo is to let individual users, and their circle of friends and family, have control over the storing and accessing of digital content from their own private space. According to Promise, unlike current market products, Apollo is the first to let families, small business, home offices or workgroups easily and privately store and share their digital content. I won't quibble or point out that Western Digital and Synology have similar personal cloud products and have done for a decade or so. I also won't point out that previous attempts to redefine an external hard drive as anything other than the humdrum thing it really is have failed. We'll just dig right in and look at what Apollo is trying to offer here.

The press release articulates a bewildering array of selling points: the fact that Apollo will help ease up space on phones, tablets and laptops; the fact that (shock, horror) users can access their data remotely; the fact that there is lots of capacity here (4 TB for those who were interested); and finally, the fact that, once purchased, there is no ongoing cost with Apollo.

Where to start?

If Promise really wants to resolve the issue around storage space on devices, then surely creating another device (notwithstanding that it is a standalone one) is counter intuitive, no? If Promise really wants to move the needle on remote access, you'd think that a cloud file storage solution would be the easiest way to do so. If capacity is an issue, I've not heard of anyone maxing out their Dropbox or other cloud storage vendor's capacity. The cost saving one I'll grudgingly accept, but cloud storage is pretty cheap on the scale of things.

Not wanting to concede any of the glaringly wrong things with this product, Promise shouts from the rooftops how valuable this is:

“We are proud to offer consumers a personal cloud appliance that provides an easier, safer way to store and share their photos, videos and files with their family, friends, and colleagues,” said James Lee, CEO of Promise Technology. “Apollo marks a significant moment for Promise, but it is just the beginning as we are creating a complete family of cloud appliances to meet the diverse needs of all our users.”


Do you need to ask? My view is obvious. There is nothing novel or innovative in this. It is, perhaps, moderately useful as a small office backup device, assuming it is priced competitively against all the other external hard drives out there. But this is in no way a cloud -- it delivers few of the benefits that the cloud does and just introduces problems. I mean, apart from anything else, what happens when the house in which your "personal cloud" resides burns down? I'm not, in any way, shape or form convinced.

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