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iCloud and the Cloud

Dropbox has so far been a big name in cloud storage, syncing book purchases direct for O'Reilly and Pragmatic Bookshelf, and seeing integration across many iOS apps. But it is not the only name in cloud storage, and GoogleDrive, SugarSync and SkyDrive offer a similar level of simplicity when it comes to syncing files between your desktop, laptop, tablet and phone.

What's different about iCloud is that instead of offering flexible storage to the user through Finder (or their main file organiser), iCloud is mainly accessed through iOS apps - predominantly Pages, Numbers, iCal and Keynote - and the iCloud.com website.

While further desktop integration is to follow in OS X Mountain Lion, it won't take on the guise of a simple folder like all the rest. This is a wise move by Apple because as more and more services like Dropbox with little to differentiate them appear they will have to largely compete on free gigabytes of space (as we are already seeing from Microsoft), and gigabytes cost money to maintain.

Note: SkyDrive enables you to create Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint docs, and GoogleDrive lets you create Google equivalents, providing some differentiation.

Once you go over your free quota (5GB for Dropbox and SugarSync; 7 GB for SkyDrive) you can earn more or pay for more, but what will you really do? Add another folder from the many services out there, accumulating free gigabytes as you go. Hence, meaning no income is guaranteed for these vendors.

While Apple does provide 5 GB free, and lets you access this from other apps outside their own, and on the web, many users will buy Pages, Numbers and Keynote (on iOS and OS X), which help fund the iCloud; not to mention funding from OS X, Macs, iPads, iPhones, and the percentage of income they receive from all App Store purchases. All of which makes certain that iCloud has a stream of income of one form or another whether people buy extra storage or not. A luxury that the others, in their race to be the most popular, do not enjoy in the same interconnected and entangled way.

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