Buying digital items has always been a dicey proposition. Are you buying a license, a service or a receipt that you can print out? How do you replace the item if you lose it? Should there be a charge for that, and would that be to replace the item or just a bandwidth charge to re-download?
After thinking a bit harder about my latest iTunes Store issue with the Battlestar Galactica miniseries, I thought very hard about what I’d want from an iTunes cloud offering. After seeing Apple’s announcement about tomorrow, it’s time we all had a better discussion of what it really means to have everything you “own” exist on a server somewhere else. My best comparison here is Google Apps/Gmail.
1. I’d never lose anything
Barring nuclear war, Apple’s servers are never going down. Whatever I paid for would still be there no matter what happened to my home computer. My contacts and calendars work this way through MobileMe and Google Apps and I love it.
2. You’d NEED an internet connection
Although I use services that have more than decent web-based apps, I still use Apple Mail, iCal and Address Book as my home base for storing and manipulating data. My view of cloud-based storage is one of syncing and backup, not total reliance.
3. You’re giving final control over your data to someone else
While the iTunes Store doesn’t have much questionable content available, what’s to stop Steve Jobs from removing an item I’ve purchased and just refunding the money? If so, that would mean I never actually owned the item, I was simply paying a license or rental fee. I want to own my stuff.
4. Syncing is the answer
Companies like Nomadesk have the best solution for these data issues. A locally-accessible disk is created and that disk is then synced to the cloud server. The information then exists on your computer and the server space. I’m sure there could be some sort of archive technology that would cut down on the bandwidth that constant, full syncing would eat up (if you didn’t change anything, it’s not synced).
5. Over-the-air syncing for iPods
This has nothing to do with the announcement, but why the hell can’t I sync my iPhone over at least WiFi with my laptop? An 802.11n connecting is more than fast enough and I don’t like having ANOTHER cord to carry around. 3G is too much of a bandwidth hog, but WiFi seems obvious.
What would you like out of a cloud solution? Is there a better one?