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Steve Jobs Ushers In Free "Post-PC" iCloud

iCloud Storage Locker Turns Out to be More of a Walk-In Closet

Apple's iCloud storage locker turns out to be more of a walk-in closet, a place to put photos, music, books and documents accessible from any Apple device.

And it's free. Well, pretty much.

It's cast as the central hub around which people will live their digital lives and "demote the PC and Mac to just be a device," according to master of ceremonies Steve Jobs, who was looking pretty frail, his bones sticking out of his signature black turtleneck, poor thing. He was greeted at Apple's annual developers' conference Monday by a standing ovation as well he should be.

iCloud consists of a new iTunes where people can freely download every song they ever bought and if they didn't buy it on iTunes - maybe because they never bought it at all - naughty, naughty - or honestly converted it from CDs they can pay $25 a year for a service called iTune Match that Apple acquired when it bought Lala last year.

Apple will reportedly pay the big music labels 70% of the take to sync the non-iTunes music on all the user's devices.

Otherwise Apple will scan people's iTunes libraries and play any song they have there on their iPhone, iPad, iPod and Mac - 10 devices to an account - because Apple's got deals with the record labels that Google and Amazon don't.

According to the New York Post it's paying the four major labels somewhere in the vicinity of $100 million-$150 million upfront for the privilege.

Google and Amazon users, on the other hand, have to go through the hassle of hoisting their songs into the cloud, which could take a really long time for people with large collections. Google and Amazon are eventually expected to pony up more than Apple to stay even.

Stick a Fork in MobileMe
The advent of iCloud means Apple's failed-anyway $99-a-year MobileMe service will be carbonized toast a year from now. Jobs called it "not our finest hour." From now on it'll be iCloud that let users sync their calendar, e-mail and contacts across devices complements of rewritten iCloud-ized applications while iWorks documents - Pages, Keynote and Numbers - can be stored on iCloud like Google Docs. Ditto iBooks, which will remember the bookmarked page you're on when you switch, say, from iPad to iPhone.

There's also a new service called Photo Stream, which will apparently do just that automatically thanks to a button on iPhoto. Apple will only store a person's last thousand pictures for 30 days - unless you move them to an album - but the storage space they take up won't be part of the free 5GB that goes with iCloud. That's only for mail, documents and automatic daily Wi-Fi-based backup. More space will be available for a price.

Apple's App Store will also be on iCloud.

iCloud will be free with iOS 5 when it arrives this fall including the free 5GB of storage. Right now the widgetry's in beta, open to developers, who'll get iCloud APIs, and civilians who just want to play with the music part of the thing.

iCloud will live in Apple's new environmentally friendly 500,000-square-foot data center in North Carolina.

By the way, Apple said it's sold 25 million iPads in the last 14 months.

As the Wall Street Journal said Apple failed to deliver rapture Monday and its shares fell $5.40 to $338.04, down another 1.57%. It was a punk day all around but the paper said Apple investors have irrational expectations and don't know a sticky lock-in product when they see one. 

More Stories By Maureen O'Gara

Maureen O'Gara the most read technology reporter for the past 20 years, is the Cloud Computing and Virtualization News Desk editor of SYS-CON Media. She is the publisher of famous "Billygrams" and the editor-in-chief of "Client/Server News" for more than a decade. One of the most respected technology reporters in the business, Maureen can be reached by email at maureen(at)sys-con.com or paperboy(at)g2news.com, and by phone at 516 759-7025. Twitter: @MaureenOGara

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