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Sunday, June 12, 2011
Apple iCloud: the criticism
Apple’s latest product, the iCloud, has - as usual for an Apple launch - met with a storm of media interest. But not everyone’s convinced. Here’s a look at some of the criticism it’s been receiving on the web.
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Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address at the 2011 Apple World Wide Developers Conference.Photo: GETTY
The guys at ReadWriteWeb are unimpressed. “Apple's new offer does not involve music streaming”, they say. “True, you can have your music collection synced across devices (up to 10 of them). But you will still have to download the music you want to play on to your iPhone or iPad or iPod Touch or Mac. You won't be able to access your entire collection and randomly shuffle between all the glorious gigabytes.” Google and Amazon will “breathe a sigh of relief”.
Steve Jobs talks about the music component of iCloud at the Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. (Photo: AP)
Only your own music
Over at MusicMachinery they make a related criticism: it’s only your own music you can listen to. They suggest that over the years, music companies have been pushing the “delusion” that you can buy music, but in fact you’re just “renting it until the next format change comes along”, and that a music subscription service is the logical extension of that. Paul Lamere says: “Apple (along with Amazon and Google) are going down the wrong path. The music cloud shouldn’t be a locker in the sky where I can put all the music I own, it should be the Celestial Jukebox – a place where all music is available for me to listen to.”
Evolver.fm concurs: “Apple’s music locker is a nice feature for those who like Apple’s hardware and software, but it’s not the cloud endgame: a Rhapsody- or Spotify-type music subscription service on steroids.”
Limited storage space
Most of your music won’t require storing: iCloud will recognise it and give you access to its iTunes version, rather than requiring you to store it. But if the music’s not on iTunes, you’ll have to upload it into the cloud yourself - and with a respectable but hardly voluminous 5Gb storage space in the cloud, you may find yourself short of room, as Rachel King at ZDNet asks: “What about movies and music not purchased via iTunes? Or other large collaborative files such as graphic-heavy presentations? That 5GB could go fast. Then again, it’s free so it’s hard to complain.” She also points out that “Uploading to the cloud could get expensive quickly” for 3G and 4G users, especially “if someone is constantly uploading new versions of documents, music files and apps all the time.”
iCloud is unveiled during the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco. (Photo: EPA)
No TV or video
FierceIPTV, the internet TV monitor, says that Apple has “missed the bullseye” by failing to provide streaming video and full syncing. “It does allow users to sync video content”, they say, but: “The process may be a drag because users will have to upload and download files in full between devices and iCloud.”
File it “in the ‘needs more work’ queue”, they say, although they expect more from Apple soon.
Apple have tried this before, and screwed it up
This isn’t Apple’s first venture into the cloud. Wired points out that: “iCloud will be Apple’s sequel to MobileMe, a paid online service for synchronizing personal information, such as your calendars, address books, e-mail and photos, across multiple devices. Tech observers agree that MobileMe has been one of Apple’s most embarrassingly flawed products, thanks to its extremely buggy launch and limited functionality.“
Worse still, even Mobile Me wasn’t the first: it was “itself a 2008 rebranding of .Mac, which began its life in 2000 as iDisk”, they say. Can they manage to get it right fourth time? And if they do, what will happen to the MobileMe users who’ve paid $99 a year for something they’re now giving away for free? “Apple has been known to offer refunds and price adjustments in the past, most notably after the price drop of the first iPhone in 2007, which settled an uproar amongst those who shelled out $599 rather than $399. Thus, Apple might find itself in such a pinch once iCloud launches this fall”, says Rachel King of ZDNet.
Steve Jobs takes the stage to discuss the iCloud service at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco. (Photo: REUTERS)
It’s not safe
In the wake of recent data scares, people are understandably wary of floating all their personal data and documents into the ether. Our own Adrian Hon writes: “Seventy-five million users’ passwords and personal data on Sony’s Playstation Network were recently accessed by hackers, handily demonstrating that even the biggest companies don’t have bulletproof security. If we are going to entrust all our data and work to a single company and a single point of failure, whether it’s Apple or Google or Amazon, we need to be confident that we’re safe. We also need to be aware that this isn’t all for our benefit, either. There are billions to be made from accurately targeting consumers with adverts and recommendations, and with a record of every piece of media we consume and purchase, companies can influence our tastes and behaviour in ever more subtle and powerful ways.”
The New Yorker agrees: “But how do you know that these companies are going to keep your e-mail, photographs, dissertation research, financial records, or notes on an article about the next Wikileaks from other corporations or from hackers or from governments? Ultimately, you don’t. The future of cloud-based companies depends upon maintaining privacy, but we use their products in the present. Accidents happen, smart people can fall for phishing scams, and thieves find ways of breaking into things, whether it’s the Kryptonite bike lock or Gmail.