If you’ve watched the video for Apple’s iCloud service, you may be wondering, as I am, if Apple is going to wrap up the entire tablet/notebook/desktop/phone/gadget space in the near future. This service is so compelling that it begs the question, where is the competition for this? Microsoft has its Skydrive and Amazon its EC2, but neither of these companies sell their own notebook, desktop, phone or other devices. As for Google, it doesn’t seem to be in the cloud game in the same way that Apple is defining it.
Think about Microsoft’s problem. They have to cross their fingers and hope that Windows 8 on a tablet will be compelling enough for users to start buying the tablets in quantity and finally give the company a foothold in that space. And Windows 8 Smartphones will have to be hot sellers as well. If this doesn’t happen, then Microsoft will just have to be content with implementing Apple software on PCs and hope that no one gets fed up enough with the implementation of iCloud, in particular, on a PC (more about this below) to make a switch to Apple hardware in the next go ‘round of computer upgrades.
Now think about Amazon’s problem. They just released their first tablet, the Kindle Fire—to less than stellar reviews by the way—and it’s built to work with their cloud, but that’s where it ends. No other hardware is using their Silk browser at this time, though rumors are that it may soon be available for other platforms.
As for Google, they have Android on lots of tablets and phones, but I don’t see any attempt from them to make these devices work seamlessly with Windows PCs like iCloud does with Apple devices. And Google’s own Chromebooks seem to be dead in the water.
Getting back to my own experience, I have to admit I am envious of the way the Apple products seem to be working together with iCloud. So, I dipped my toe in the water recently by trying to get my iPod Touch and HP desktop running Windows 7 working together with iCloud. Now mind you, I have a Blackberry Smartphone, Acer tablet, and Dell notebook (still on Windows Vista) as well as the HP desktop to work with. Does this sound like a party among friends or a bunch of strangers in a room?
I had been getting notices on my PC for several months informing me that iCloud was available for download. I just ignored these until last week. The catalyst for me taking a closer look at iCloud was a notice on my iPod Touch that the latest version of Apple’s iOS was available. When I did the upgrade, I finally consented to joining iCloud. (It’s free, by the way.)
Once I did this, I downloaded iCloud to my PC from the Apple web site. Then, I shot some videos with my iPod, and I fully expected to see them on my PC, no muss, no fuss. When I looked, they weren’t there. (Actually, I didn’t know where to look for them.) Naturally, I went to YouTube to find out what I was doing wrong. But in this case, YouTube did not come through for me. Instead, I found an excellent article about using iCloud with a PC that walked me through all the steps.
The article, How To Get iCloud’s Photo Stream Working On A Windows PC by K.T. Bradford, let me know that I had to turn on Photo Stream on my iPod Touch before anything would work. It also let me know that photos and videos residing on my iPod before I turned on Photo Stream would not be moved to my PC. I was okay with that, since there are other ways to do this, of course. The article also let me know that I needed to launch the iCloud app on my PC and check the Photo Stream box before any transfers would take place. I also had to make note of the folder where the photos and videos would show up on the PC.
Once I took care of these setup chores, I snapped a photo on my iPod and lo and behold, it showed up on my PC a few moments later. I also have the ability to upload photos and videos to the iPod from my PC, by placing them in the appropriate folder. Now I have to check if I can use iCloud with my Android tablet and Blackberry phone. A quick check on the Internet doesn’t look too promising.
I have to say, iCloud seems like a game changer to me. It’s not just a matter of transferring photos and videos seamlessly to all your iOS devices, but other files as well (watch the video referenced above if you haven’t done so yet). And get this, iCloud doesn’t even appear on the Apple home page navigation bar—yet! To me, this service certainly seems capable of giving people a nudge in Apple’s direction for all their computing needs. Apple already owns the tablet market and is very strong in the Smartphone market, too, as we all know. It will be interesting to see if their market share in notebooks and PCs grows substantially in the next few years, while their competition struggles to fill in the pieces of the pie that are currently missing in their own offerings.