iCloud looks great as far as it goes, which is all the way to about 2006

Excellent all-Mac music and media service pales next to the universe of cloud computing


I haven't had a chance to play with it yet, Apple's long-awaited iCloud looks like a service designed as a better iTunes from the mid-noughties, when iTunes was the only real service of its kind and music-sync was as far as most people could conceive of going with a cloud-based service.

The result looks like a good service that was already obsolete in concept and interoperability before it even launched.

iCloud started the marketing lifecycle – according to hints and suggestions planted in the rumor mill by Apple insiders doing its secretive version of FUD – as a consumer music service designed to improve on iTunes without cannibalizing the iTunes market.

It would be attractive as a standalone service because it would let Apple customers do some "cloudy" things like sync their iPods, iPhones, iPads and iBrid electric vehicles (not yet announced, but cute as a bug [not that bug, a generic bug (not "generic" generic; an insect, but cute the way Apple would make it)]).

The beauty would be they wouldnt' have to leave the Apple environment, which is increasingly the focus of Apple's design and "integration" efforts. (Making sure all your own products, fully controlled by you without the aggravation of dealing with partners, does not count as "integration.")

Still, that's what plenty of Apple users wanted.

Before Apple could get it out there, the rest of the cloud revolution happened – or at least even consumers realized it had happened and they all already were using some cloud services, from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Netflix, Mint.com, Evernote – wherever.

The rest of the market offers some pretty decent functionality, at very low prices.

So Apple had to raise its ante a bit, at least to match what everyone else was offering.

It didn't make it.

"While Cupertino may act like theirs is the first such service to market, the reality is, as usual, something else entirely," wrote MacLife's J.R. Bookwalter, which I quote just to bolster the perception that this is not just some anti-Mac opinion.

Most of the other music services from Google, Amazon, Dropbox and others don't quite measure up in usability of iCloud. iCloud's ease of use and many of its features depend on features in Mac OSX and iOS 5.

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