Apple Names Prices for Seats in Its iCloud
More information is trickling forth about iCloud, Apple's upcoming syncing and online storage service. The company's expanded on the prices it will charge for various levels of cloud data storage, and it's also shown a preview of the iCloud Web apps customers will be able to use alongside their iOS and Mac OS X devices.
Apple has disclosed the pricing for iCloud storage and launched a limited beta version.
Users of iCloud storage get the first 5 GB free, as stated when Cupertino announced iCloud in June.
Additional storage will cost US$2 per GB.
Meanwhile, a preview of iCloud's suite of Web apps seems to be available for a select few developers. The iCloud apps run in the latest version of Safari on Mac OS X Lion. They include an address book, a calendar and a mail app, according to Darrell Etherington of GigaOm, who posted a screencast of the apps in action.
These apps resemble their counterparts in Mac OS X Lion, Etherington said. They are reportedly available to only some Apple ID and MobileMe account holders and some developers.
Charges for iCloud Storage
Users who need more than the initial 5 GB of storage in the iCloud will be charged annual fees. It will cost them $20 for an additional 10 GB, $40 for an additional 20 GB and $50 for an additional 50 GB.
However, online cloud storage costs much less at other providers.
Dropbox offers 2 GB free in its basic plan. Its Pro 50 plan costs $10 a month for 50 GB of storage, and the Pro 100 costs $20 a month for 100 GB.
The company offers storage for devices running Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, iOS and BlackBerry OS.
Box offers personal users up to 50 GB free. Businesses with three to 500 users pay $15 per user per month for 500 GB. Enterprises get unlimited data and have to call in for charges.
The company lets users work with Google Docs online.
Adrive, which offers storage for Windows, Macs and Linux devices, offers 50 GB free storage and backup for individual use.
Its Signature plan offers 50 GB of storage with additional features not available in the personal plan, for $70 a year. The Premium service, available in capacities of 100 GB and up, starts at $140 a year.
The Value of Apple Pricing
On closer examination, Apple's charges for iCloud storage are not quite as steep as they might seem. Recall that Apple doesn't count Photo Stream images against the free 5 GB of iCloud storage every user gets.
Books and iTunes media don't count toward the 5 GB initial allotment either.
"The important thing to be aware of when people use online storage is what they use it for primarily," Bob O'Donnell, a vice president of research at IDC, told MacNewsWorld.
"What takes up the most space on your hard drive?" O'Donnell asked. "Music and photos.
"So, if you take those away, how much space will you take up on your hard drive? Not much," he added.
"So you can't do an apples to apples comparison when it comes to online storage," O'Donnell concluded.
That's a point of view shared by Box cofounder and CEO Aaron Levie.
"Apple's iCloud service is priced competitively for the consumer online storage market, and its entry will create new awareness and excitement about the benefits of storing photos, music and other media in the cloud," Levie told MacNewsWorld.
Apple did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
The Competitive Cloudscape
Apple will probably be restricted to its core user base for the foreseeable future, Dmitriy Molchanov, an analyst at the Yankee Group, suggested.
For one thing, a Yankee Group survey found that only 13 percent of consumers expressed high interest in digital lockers and cloud storage.
Further, when those respondents who had expressed interest in cloud storage were asked to evaluate their impressions of various cloud storage brands, including Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Google, they put Google at the top.
Google got 88 percent of those respondents' interest, Amazon 82 percent, Apple 71 percent and Microsoft 70 percent, Molchanov said.
"Apple has correctly tailored iCloud to current iOS device owners," Molchanov told MacNewsWorld. "This strategy will pay dividends in an environment where Amazon has beaten Apple on price and consumer awareness," he added.
Apps in the iCloud
The Web apps on iCloud further boost the iCloud's competitive stance.
"You can both work on and view documents in the iCloud," Laura DiDio, principal at ITIC, told MacNewsWorld.
"Google and Microsoft have been in the market longer, so they do have a head start with their cloud apps, but I think Apple's going to be running furiously to catch up," DiDio said.