iCloud (formerly iTools, .Mac and MobileMe) is a cloud computing service from Apple Inc. announced on June 6, 2011 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The service allows users to store data such as music files for download to multiple devices such as iPhones, iPods, iPads, and personal computers running Mac OSX or Microsoft Windows on computer servers owned by Apple. It also replaces Apple's MobileMe program, acting as a data syncing center for email, contacts, calendars, bookmark, notes, to-do lists and other data.
iCloud is so much more than a hard drive in the sky. It’s the effortless way to access just about everything on all your devices. iCloud stores your content so it’s always accessible from your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac, or PC.* It gives you instant access to your music, apps, latest photos, and more. And it keeps your email, contacts, and calendars up to date across all your devices. No syncing required. No management required. In fact, no anything required. iCloud does it all for you.
Apple posted information on its Web site Monday that offers more details about the company's upcoming iCloud software which will sync customers content between multiple devices. iCloud, which is expected to begin this fall, will allow Apple customers to share their music, books, music and photos between multiple computers and mobile devices, including an iPhone and desktop computer. The company will also back up this content in the cloud. Apple said that customers will be given 5 gigabytes of storage for free. Customers who need more space will be able to purchase additional storage in yearly chunks. Ten gigabytes of additional space will cost $20 a year, 20 gigabytes will cost $40 and 50 gigabytes will cost $100, the company said.
But don't worry about having to shell out more money to Apple. Most customers will not need to upgrade. Apple noted on its Web site that applications, books and music, will not count against the 5 gigabytes of free storage. Mail, iWorks documents, photos and account settings will count towards the iCloud storage. A user could expect to store more than 1,000 photos for free.
The final version of iCloud will ship along with iOS 5 sometime this fall. As part of the service, Apple will offer 5GB of storage for free, with an additional 10GB for $20 per year, 20GB for $40 per year and 50GB for $100 per year.
Apple clearly plans on leveraging its substantial market presence in hardware, software and media to make iCloud a success, and push back against similar offerings from Google and Amazon.com. The latter two have something of a head start in the consumer-cloud category: Amazon’s Cloud Drive lets users store documents and music within the cloud, while Google has expanded its cloud offerings beyond productivity to music, courtesy of the recently released Music Beta.
For users, iCloud offers some distinct advantages in the realm of not-losing-your-stuff. Users will be able to see all their downloaded apps in the “purchase history” section of the App Store, and re-download them at no additional cost. Apple’s e-books (or “iBooks,” as the company likes to call them) will work in a similar fashion, with iCloud giving users the ability to download their texts to any of their devices. Bookmarks, notes and highlighting likewise carry between all the editions on all devices.
Some analysts see the iCloud as increasing Apple’s “stickiness” among consumers. In a research note released on the heels of Apple first revealing its cloud initiative in June, Ticonderoga Securities analyst Brian White wrote, “These new announcements further strengthen Apple’s digital ecosystem by providing consumers with increased functionality, enhanced ease of use, greater efficiency and cool new features… that we believe will drive further adoption of Apple devices in the future.”
More Info @ http://www.apple.com/icloud/what-is.html