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Steve Jobs missed the cloud boat

by on13 May 2014

Even though he saw it coming

Apple Messiah Steve Jobs predicted the arrival of the cloud as a force, but because of his obsession with locking customers in to the Fruity Walled Garden caused the outfit to miss the boat. ZDNet’s Ed Bott found an email dated 2010 in which Jobs explains how significant cloud computing would become in the coming years and urged Apple to get out in front of this trend to “further lock customers into our ecosystem.” 

However four years later Apple is still behind on the cloud because Jobs only saw the cloud as a means to lock customers into his outfit’s products. Bott points out that the email is puzzling because Apple’s Disruptor-in-Chief, knew full well how important it is to disrupt your own business before you let someone else do it. He also recognized that both Google and Microsoft had a significant lead in cloud technology, even if they hadn’t figured out how to translate that technology into income or profits.

The problem, claims Bott is that Jobs also remained firmly wedded to Apple’s walled garden. His directive in this memo said that the cloud enabled Apple to “tie all of our products together, so we further lock customers into our ecosystem.”

As a result Apple’s iCloud is a backup target for iOS devices, a job it does reasonably well but a chocolate teapot when it comes to real cloud use. Real cloud use was not, as Jobs thought, a way to lock people in, but a way of breaking them out and allowing true cross platform products.

What Apple has seen is that one of its few major cross-platform success the iTunes Store is out of date and outclassed by music streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify. This is one reason that Apple decided to buy up Beats so that it could finally offer its own music streaming service that will let users listen to whatever they want on demand.

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