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5 Essential Features That iCloud Needs to Succeed

Though there is much speculation surrounding the service, nobody knows for sure what Apple has in store for us on Monday when the company introduces us to iCloud. Will it absorb MobileMe, Apple’s current synchronization service, or will it stand on its own? Does Apple have plans to unify files on your iOS devices with your Mac or Windows PC?

Despite the fact that we know very little about the service, we are relatively certain that it will include a music-streaming component. Many have been waiting for iTunes to go wireless since Apple purchased Lala in 2009 might finally be pushed to the company’s devout customers.

But what else does Apple’s iCloud music service need to succeed?

Video Streaming

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Apple is said to be in talks with many major Hollywood studios to bring video purchases to the cloud alongside your music. Though this feature will likely be unavailable at launch, the ability to buy or rent a movie and then instantly stream the content to a compatible device in a way akin to Apple TV’s current configuration would be a giant victory for the Cupertino-based company.

The only problem is ensuring that users will have enough bandwidth at their homes to stream all of the content that they want to view. You can bet that after a few short days of viewing video over the cloud, all of your bandwidth allowance would be used up. Many service providers are instituting a similar cap on home systems, so this will likely affect the habits of home users as well.

Compatibility

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Apple’s previous cloud offerings have focused on merging the worlds of iOS and Mac, but that strategy leaves behind an extremely important demographic, PC users. The company will have to clearly open up the service for intuitive PC use, as it does with MobileMe, since there are countless iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad users that sync their devices with their Windows-based machines.

Still, Apple must include another untraditional demographic – other mobile devices. Will iCloud include an HTML5-based web application that is accesible from any handset no matter what OS it’s running on? If Apple were to implement this strategy, it would almost guarantee the success of its cloud-based service.

Global Presence

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Apple’s new iCloud music service will reportedly available only to residents of the United States at launch, but will the entire service be limited to one country? Having your iCloud music available to you inside of the United States is great, because it means that there would no longer be any storage limitation on your device, but what happens when you take a trip to Toronto or London? Can you take iCloud with you?

It is important to note that Apple’s music-streaming service is still only a rumor. We’ll know for sure what Apple is going to offer on Monday during the company’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference keynote.

Easy Access

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Apple’s iCloud is set to compete with Google Music beta and Amazon Cloud Drive, both of which have a few issues with implementations. For one, both services force you to upload all of your digital music bit-by-bit, a process that could take hours or even days. According to some rumors, Apple’s system will instead scan your library and then give you access to music that is already housed on the company’s servers, which would dramatically reduce the service’s setup time.

But what about physical CDs? Uploading songs to iCloud that you bought on iTunes would be nice, but for many, iTunes purchases make up only a fraction of their libraries. How does Apple plan to handle ripped discs, purchases from other stores, and torrents? Let’s hope that Apple chooses to mirror everything on your computer that can be matched to your database.

Reasonable Price Point

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Apple may be able to sustain a loss and offer iCloud for free at first, but the company will be forced to charge approximately $25 every year for cloud-based storage. According to the Los Angeles Times, Apple must do this to ensure that music publishers jump on the company’s streaming bandwagon. That’s a cheap price depending on how much you can store.

What do you think? What would you be willing to pay for Apple’s newest service? Would you spend more for cross-platform compatibility? Video streaming? Sound off in the comments below.


Jack McGrath

Rooted in his childhood obsession with dismantling and reassembling gizmos and gadgets around the house, Jack McGrath's knowledge of programming,...

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