WWDC: Industry speaks on Apple's iCloud post-PC attack

By Jonny Evans

Apple [AAPL] gave us a better glimpse inside its software soul during its WWDC keynote yesterday, with company CEO, Steve Jobs taking the stage to introduce iCloud, Lion and iOS 5, the three hearts of the Cupertino tech giant. I've gathered some reactions to Apple's announcements below.

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You can read about Apple's announcements yesterday within this three page report:

On page 1: "WWDC: Apple's iCloud is 'one cloud to rule them all'"

On page 2: "WWDC: Apple's iOS 5 eats RIM, gets 'Post-PC' updated"

On page 3: "WWDC: Apple's Mac OS Lion will cost $29.99, more"

With 1,500 new API's for developers to work with, 2011 sets the scene for the next few years of the Apple era, an era typified by the company's growing share in three key markets: PC, smartphone and tablet markets, in all three of which it holds a leading position.

Developers, developers, developers

Rich Siegel, founder and CEO of Bare Bones Software told me, "The amount of user-facing work that's going into Mac OS X 10.7 and iOS 5 is truly impressive, especially as it reflects an enormous amount of work under the hood."

He adds, "Fifteen hundred new APIs may take more than a week to digest. But certainly as the week goes on I expect to have a better sense of how we can employ the internal developments to make better products for our customers."

I noted yesterday that Apple's iOS appear to have taken some inspiration from other third-party products in their designs. Safari's Reading List offers some of the features of Instapaper, while the new camera use features match some of those of the popular Camera+ app.

[This story is from Computerworld's Apple Holic blog. Follow on Twitter or subscribe via RSS to make sure you don't miss a beat.]

'Tentative optimism'

Instapaper creator, Marco Arment didn't take the Safari Reading List announcement well -- at first. He now hopes that if Safari users like Safari Reading List, they'll see value in such solutions, enabling him to let them know that Instapaper is like "Safari's Reading List, but better."

"So I'm tentatively optimistic. Our world changes quickly, especially on the cutting edge, and I really don't know what's going to happen. (Nobody does.) But the more potential scenarios I consider, the more likely it seems that Safari's Reading List is either going to have no noticeable effect on Instapaper, or it will improve sales dramatically. Time will tell," he wrote on his blog.

John Casasanta leads tap tap tap, makers of Camera+. He told Gigaom that he wasn't worried that Apple had improved its image capture devices with the ability to access the camera rom the lock screen and the ability to take snaps by clicking the volume button. Camera+ had introduced features like this -- only to see them banned by Apple. Casasanta said he's more excited about the hundreds of new APIs which should enable him to improve his app.

"The bottom line is it will make things much better for camera apps in general," he told Gigaom. "The third-party camera apps market is huge. People love them and we'll probably see more camera apps now."

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Raining on the iCloud

Giles Cottle, Senior Analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, provided me with the following observations on iCloud.

"Apple was not first to launch a cloud-based storage and content service: a host of start-ups, not to mention Amazon and Google, have made similar plays. Lest we forget, though, that there were several inferior suitors to the MP3 player crown before Apple blew the competition out of the water with the iPod. First does not necessarily equal best."

He adds, "The basic user proposition of cloud services – being able to access your photos, documents, video and music everywhere – is fairly straightforward. But it was always going to take someone like Apple to really educate mass market consumers about the value of cloud-based services. We are, it appears, on the cusp of that moment.

"Most crucially, Apple's tight control of its device ecosystem means that iCloud is much more likely to, as Steve Jobs puts it, "just work". Apple's total control of the device and content ecosystem has been heavily criticized in the past, but, if iCloud works as well in practice as it did in today's demo, it's a stunning validation of the power of closed ecosystems."

The music windfall?

Naturally, Apple's competitors also hope to grow as a result of the company's iCloud moves.

In a statement provided to me, Ben Drury, CEO at 7digital said: "We've always supported the concept of making consumers' personal music collections accessible on all their devices - indeed we've allowed customers to re-download their purchases for several years. As consumers use more and more connected devices in their daily lives, accessing all their content easily and instantly on all their devices has become a compelling need.

"The new services from Apple are a step in the right direction but only if all your devices are Apple devices. Their platform is essentially closed and proprietary - customers are forced into choosing Apple for all their devices. 7digital's approach, through our open APIs and partnerships, is to offer cloud functionality that is independent of device - you can use our service on Android, BlackBerry, PC, Mac, Linux, Safari, Chrome etc."

In other words, now Apple has a cloud competing firms will be doing their best to emulate the firm on features. Again. Always it was ever so.

One key element to iCloud is the iTunes features. Until now, I've predicted that Apple will roll its iTunes/iCloud out into the US first. I still anticipate this will be the case, but also believe the delay between a US and a European launch may be very small.

This is because Apple has announced its plans now and its iTunes teams worldwide can now begin their negotiations with local label and music publishing houses. And, as we all know independent music sells a huge amount of music on digital services, this also suggests Apple should win support from labels beyond the majors.

Charles Caldas, CEO independent music label rights agency Merlin says: "As the most experienced player in the digital music space, Apple should have the deepest understanding of the significant value that independents bring to their business. In light of this I would be very surprised and extremely disappointed if Apple were not going to ensure that independent rights holders are properly and fairly remunerated on the iCloud service."

But not everyone is happy with iCloud music. Music industry firebrand, Bob Lefsetz, said, "Who in the hell is going to buy a music subscription for even $3 a month when for $25 a year you can have everything you own, even stole, at your fingertips via iCloud?" He explains,  "That's if you scan and match, if you bought the stuff on iTunes, it's FREE!"

He believes the music labels have made an error in supporting Apple's move to offer a hybrid a la carte/subscription/streaming cloud music model (so far). I'd like to note that with Apple's iPod refresh due in September, there's a chance we'll see yet more evolution from iTunes in the cloud, however.

Find My Mac -- lost?

One thing that didn't appear in yesterday's keynote (though I remain convinced it is in development) is the much-anticipated 'Find My Mac' feature. Lyle Singular, VP of Recovery Services, Absolute Software, thinks this may be a good thing, telling me:

"In the past few weeks, there's been a noticeable rise in cases of consumer vigilantism, where victims of laptop theft have used tracking software to identify the location and identity of the suspected thief. Some individuals have also reached out to their social networks to try and recover the device, or have gone after the suspects themselves."

Fair enough, but this may not be good -- Will Carling's iPad detective story aside, there's risks to confrontation, warns Singular. "This is an incredibly dangerous decision. Our Theft Recovery Team's involvement in an average of 100 recoveries per week has proven that laptop theft is often more than a petty crime, and can lead to encounters with very serious operations and dangerous criminals. In the instance of a stolen laptop, consumers need to make their personal safety a top priority by selecting security software and applications that do not promote vigilantism. Additionally, as technology continues to evolve more quickly than legislature can be written, it is best for all involved - victims as well as potential suspects - to leave the investigative work to the professionals."

In other words, once again, and reading between the lines, Apple's mooted introduction of lost Mac recovery tools may even build the business of organization's such as Singular's.

This is a post-PC planet

What is important is that all Apple's moves yesterday portray a company applying all of its might to stake the biggest space in the Post-PC age.

From dropping the word Mac from Mac OS X to the implementation of iPad-like gestures within the Lion OS, Apple is preparing for a different and reinvented PC market.

The computer world is changing, rapidly. Take a look at IDC's latest PC shipment forecast for proof. The firm last night reduced its forecast to 4.2 percent from 7.1 percent, citing a tough economy and the rapidly growing market for alternative devices.

Now you don't even need a Mac or PC to update your post-PC iPad, iPhone or iPod touch, that growth will speed up even more rapidly -- particularly in a tough market.

"Consumers are recognizing the value of owning and using multiple intelligent devices and because they already own PCs, they're now adding smart phones, media tablets, and eReaders to their device collections," says Bob O'Donnell, an IDC vice president in the news release."And this has shifted the technology share of wallet onto other connected devices."

Let us know your thoughts on this  in comments below. I'd also very much like to invite you to follow me on Twitter so I can let you know when I post new reports here first on Computerworld.   

You can read more about Apple's announcements yesterday within this three page report:

On page 1: "WWDC: Apple's iCloud is 'one cloud to rule them all'"

On page 2: "WWDC: Apple's iOS 5 eats RIM, gets 'Post-PC' updated"

On page 3: "WWDC: Apple's Mac OS Lion will cost $29.99, more"

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

  
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