Jobs 'demotes' PC and Mac

Apple's Steve Jobs reckons the PC and Mac are being pushed to the background, as he launches Apple's new remote service. But does he have his head in the iClouds?

by Dave Waller
Last Updated: 23 Aug 2011
Jobs has come back from his battle with illness to grace Apple’s annual developers’ conference and show off its new web-based iCloud service. This is a free service that syncs users’ content, meaning that anyone buying an app, book or music track for one device will see it replicated on their other Apple gear, whether that’s computer, phone or iPad. It will also sync things like contacts, bookmarks, mail and calendars.

Sounds swish, but is it any good? Jobs certainly thinks so, describing it as Apple’s ‘next big insight’. That’s quite a handy phrase to have up your sleeve, and one that Jobs can throw about with confidence having already rocked plenty of worlds with the iPod and iPhone. In fact he could feasibly now project an Apple logo onto the ocean, telling people that leaping off a cliff is Apple’s next big insight, and there'd be an almighty splash.

But cloud marks an interesting sticking point for Apple in that it’s already made a mess of the technology once. Its earlier paid-for MobileMe syncing service frustrated many users with, for one thing, its cost - $99 for a year. ‘It wasn't our finest hour...but we learned a lot,’ said Jobs. This time he’s confident they’ve got it right. For one thing Apple’s making iCloud free.

It certainly marks another significant step in the journey away from the traditional desktop, to a much-touted cloud-based future where all you’ll need is a browser and connection to the internet. ‘We are demoting the PC and Mac to just be a device,’ said Jobs. ‘And moving the digital hub centre of your digital life to the cloud.’ That may seem a weird thing to hear from a hardware manufacturer, but Apple has taken such strides towards creating a world where everyone’s lugging around iPads, laptops and techy phones that it now really has no choice but to focus on simplifying it.

Indeed, the key selling point of all this stuff is convenience, and it’s certainly an interesting model. For one thing iCloud works with iTunes to scan your music library, including songs you've ripped yourself from CDs, and duplicate it across your other gadgets. Clever.

Yet it’s one that still attracts its share of critics. These tech companies develop all the different platforms, the cynics say, and then tell us that our inability to synchronise it all is driving us mad. They then present the solution: a future where your privacy is eroded, as big providers know what you own and quite often look after it for you.

Still, Jobs and co are probably secure in the knowledge that people have happily handed over much of their details to similar cloud-based platforms like Facebook. Indeed, once the lure of ‘convenience’ is introduced, such doubts around the cloud tend to evaporate.

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