Along with hundreds of third party vendors, cloud services are available from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, and many others, including Apple. Unfortunately, Apple’s approach to cloud services makes Apple’s cloud services among the worst available.
Where’d My Music Go?
Here’s the problem. To Apple, cloud services are a feature, not a business. To almost everyone else in the industry, the aforementioned companies included, cloud storage services are a business; for some, it’s a make or break business.
Wait a minute. Doesn’t Apple charge for iCloud storage? Doesn’t that make it a business? Yes. And no. Apple has a price scheme but it seems more to be a detriment to use than an incentive because it’s priced far higher than competing services.
Worse, Apple just doesn’t seem to care as much about cloud storage as does Google, Amazon, or Microsoft (among many others) than the company does about designing and building gee-whiz hardware or magical software. Apple makes money when you buy hardware. Cloud services seem to be a necessary evil in the hallowed halls of One Infinite Way in Cupertino, CA.
Here’s a perfect example. Apple veteran Jim Dalrymple lost a few thousand songs in his iTunes library when he switched to Apple Music, a mess so monumental that he admitted his sin, and said he’s ‘done with it.’ Unfortunately, his experience with Apple Music was not all that uncommon, and mimics Apple’s problems with previous cloud services which impacted many tens of thousands of Apple’s customers.
iDrive, MobileMe, iCloud Mail, iCloud Photo Library, and Apple Music seem to get plenty of lip service in keynotes, but delivery has been far from the consistency and quality that Apple’s customer expect.
From my perspective as a long-time Apple watcher, Apple treats cloud services as an ugly stepchild; it’s not a business that makes much money, but it’s a table stakes requirement that gets bolted onto OS X and iOS because, well, everyone else has a cloud service so Apple must have one, too. I don’t mind the company following competitors from time to time, but making a nominally paying service actually work seems anathema to Apple’s executives.
As much as I love Apple hardware designs and how software works well together both on and between devices, I loathe Apple’s arrogance when it comes to implementing new service products. Experiences like Dalrymple’s have led to me to become extra cautious with new Apple products. Photos? I waited until the second version and double backed up everything before committing my tens of thousands of photos to Apple.
Apple Music? Same thing. Everything is double backed up and I’m waiting for a couple of more updates before committing any song or album to Apple’s cloud storage service. There are just too many horror stories online to justify that kind of trust. Without question, cloud services are Apple’s achilles heel, a necessary product that masses of Mac, iPhone, and iPad customers use regularly but for which local backups are a necessity– because Apple cannot be trusted to deliver a cloud experience as good as a hardware experience.
iCloud, a reborn MobileMe with tentacles that go far and deep, remains Apple’s biggest failure.