iCloud: Apple blows a huge opportunity

I never imagined I’d be blogging on Apple issues, but here we go.

In anticipation of getting a new iPad2 I migrated my MobileMe over to iCloud. It’s hard to have a definitive idea of what a new service is going to do until you get your hands on it in earnest, but I had read about iCloud, asked some Apple types who knew more than I did about it, and felt like I had a fair idea that it was going to help me solve some problems I’ve been dealing with in the course of managing the logistics of my business.

I was wrong. Mostly, anyway. I knew I was in trouble when the guy at the Apple Store told me do not migrate, sweet gods, for the sake of all that’s sacred do not migrate!! Okay, that’s not exactly how he put it, and I won’t repeat the words he actually did use (which weren’t much much better), but suffice it to say that staff was finding iCloud to be “suboptimal.” I explained that unfortunately I had already moved over. He sighed, then said he’d heard there might be a way of moving back but he wasn’t sure. After some Googling last night, I’m sad to report that if there is a reverse-migration path I can’t find it. But I’m still a relative Mac novice, so maybe I’m just missing something.

In any case, I’m not 100% in love with iCloud. A brief cruise through some Mac user forums last night suggests I’m not the only one, although: a) people do seem to be slowly getting the hang of it, b) I’m not seeing people with my exact complaint, and c) in fairness, I’m getting a better sense for how to use the new service as I wrestle with it more today.

Still, iCloud is a long way from what it could have and should have been. Here’s what I was hoping for:

  • Full-spectrum automated online backup, a la a Mozy or Dropbox type service…
  • …driven (logically) by Time Machine.
  • Integration for all my devices so that I can reach into the cloud, grab what I need, whenever, wherever, then save it back, seamlessly, etc.

Honestly, this vision seems like it would be easy enough for Apple to produce, doesn’t it? All the pieces already exist, it’s just a question of putting them together. You could have tiered data levels (first 5G free, scaling up to 100G or more for $75-100 a year, which is more than Mozy, but a price I’d gleefully pay for that sort of integration). I’m not an engineer, but this doesn’t strike me as the sort of task that a company like Apple would have any trouble pulling off.

With luck, the folks in Cupertino are thinking along the same lines and the issue isn’t that they aren’t going to give me my dream cloud, just that they aren’t there yet.

Fingers crossed. In the meantime, I’m underwhelmed, which isn’t how I’m used to feeling regarding new Apple rollouts.

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