Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Apple Launches iCloud Service

Apple Launches iCloud

Apple Inc's iCloud service, part of its first product release since the October 5 death of Steve Jobs, may cement the loyalty of millions of consumers lured by Jobs's pioneering mobile devices over the past decade.

The service will automatically store photos, songs and other files on servers at Apple's data centers and sync them with all of a customer's gadgets. A photo taken with an iPhone would appear within seconds on a user's iPad, iPod Touch, Apple TV set-top box and any personal computer running iTunes.

The move steps up competition with Google Inc's Android and other mobile-device rivals by making it harder to switch away from Apple products, said Bill Whyman, a technology analyst with International Strategy & Investment Group. If iCloud works as advertised -- something Apple's previous online products haven't always achieved -- the convenience of no longer needing to upload, download or sync files may lead many customers to buy exclusively from Apple, he said.

"iCloud could raise the switching costs for the customer, and the barriers to entry for the competitor," Whyman said. "That's very powerful."

Walter Price, a portfolio manager at RCM Capital Management, has estimated that iCloud could increase Apple's market value by $100 billion to $500 billion, due to the service's effect on hardware sales and purchases of songs, movies and other media. The Cupertino, California-based company is already the world's most valuable business, with a capitalization of $371.1 billion.


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