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Mobile Mentions – Apple’s iCloud

I’m happy to introduce a new weekly segment to mobiSights, Mobile Mentions.  Each week we will post some of the more noteworthy things going on in mobile tech each week and our thoughts on the issues, especially as they pertain to China.  I (@calvinsmith), along with Duncan Leung (@leungD), Shawn Cui, & Gurpreet Singh (@gurpreet1816) will be chiming in on what the big news is each week, so be sure to check back regularly.

In addition, we will be bringing other new and exciting segments to mobiSights as we finalize the website and shift out of beta.  Stay tuned!

This week’s big deal in the mobile world is what is coming next week.  We have two major conferences going down.  First is E3, the penultimate gaming conference.  Being an avid gamer, I’ll be commenting later on E3 if anything of note comes out it, but for now let’s talk about the other conference, WWDC.

Apple has announced that it plans to introduce its latest versions of iOS and OS X at WWDC next week.  It is also going to introduce its latest potential industry changer – iCloud.

So what will iCloud do?  

Well, what the service will actually do is still based on rumors and conjectures – though, in most cases very grounded rumors and conjectures.  Here is a quick laundry list of everything that Apple is looking to throw on its cloud.

  • Music – Stream your music from the cloud without having to download it.
    This will have some advantages over Google’s and Amazon’s renditions
    in theory.  Uploading is planned to not be necessary, for instance.
  • Movies – Similar to the music concept.   The only question here is
    DRM, since the movie industry and Apple don’t see eye-to-eye on how best to
    fight piracy.
  • Photos – Think social photo gallery in the sky that you can share with
    your family and friends.  Nothing overly exciting.
  • Games – Games, stats, and social interaction all contained on the cloud.
    Xbox Live type environment on your cell, anyone?
  • Data – The most basic use of all.  iCloud will replace
    MobileMe pulling out the good and expanding on the rest.
  • Work – Apple has its own counter to GoogleDocs, but it’s never been
    pushed by Apple.  This will probably change as iCloud offers the platform and convenience to make these tools killer.


And a few that seem logical given Apple’s business movements.

  • Voice – Apple has been after Nuance ever since it picked up Siri.  The use of Nuance’s skills will allow Apple to revamp its underwhelming voice control.  Siri+iCloud’s Data = Virtual Personal Assistant that can tell you when your friend’s birthday is and order them a cake.
  • Un-tethered Syncing and Improved Notification – A logical jump.  With computers and phones pulling data constantly from the cloud, the inability to sync your iPhone without a cable seems like a very poor oversight if not implemented.  As to the notification system, if it’s not improved, we really know something is wrong at Apple.


So what does this mean for China?

Well, I wouldn’t expect to have access to iCloud at the same time as the United States or Europe.  Obviously, China is a huge market for Apple, but the centralized data collection center poses major problems.  The issues are practically endless, but here are a few of the bigger ones:

China Protecting Itself:  The government will probably not find the concept of Apple having a databank full of its citizen’s information, much less a databank on U.S. soil, digestible.  The government has had issues with these type scenarios in the past, and has not shown any recent indications of changing this viewpoint.

The People Protecting Themselves: On the flip side, there is a question of whether Chinese citizens will want to have a single database containing all of their online lives in one place.  It would make tracking an individual’s identity, ideas, and location a cake walk.

Technical:  China’s network infrastructure is questionable at best and downright infuriating the rest.  While streaming music might be  possible if you are lucky, streaming movies is a pipedream.  Combine the current instability with the overload on the networks that the cloud could potentially cause, and you have a recipe for “still loading” disaster.

When all is said and done, we’ll probably just have to be happy watching our brothers and sisters abroad enjoy the latest industry changer, while we try to figure out the best position for our laptop’s 3G modem to catch a signal.

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