How the iCloud could be huge

One of the key things that I think a lot of us techies are overlooking is that we’re used to syncing music and movies to our iPhones and iPads. Its second nature for us to pick playlists, artists, etc to copy them over. A few weeks later we want to change it up, so we fiddle with options and sync again.

But what if we didn’t have to put up with that garbage anymore? What if we just added new music to our iTunes collection – either through buying it at the Apple store or adding in iTunes – and it showed up on all of our devices? And our iDevices were smart enough to know what music we like, what music we listen to, and just use the local storage as a cache. It seems to have the following benefits…

1. Increase usability of iTunes store – purchases are sideloaded into your cloud storage, and then pushed down to your devices automatically if you’re on wifi (and manually if you’re on 3G). Amazon lacks the hardware device to make this work, and Google’s music store doesn’t really have any traction.
2. Increase usability of iTunes app – now you don’t have to manage your music syncing preferences, it just goes and does its thing. As long as Apple’s caching algorithm is smart enough, it’ll be fine.
3. This can also extend to apps & app data, podcasts, etc. Everything except for movies, which are too large to sync over Wifi/3G (though they could be re-encoded to lower bitrates and streamed to devices like the AppleTV and iPad over fast home broadband connections and WiFi).

Doing a mental “full stop” on the current way iTunes works an rethinking how to architect it with the iTunes Store and iCloud at the center seems to make it really compelling for all of the non-experts who buy Apple products because they’re easy. Put another way, I can teach my parents how to do this – buy songs from Apple music store, wait 30 seconds, music shows up on iPhone, hit play, listen.

The big question isn’t whether or not the concept of the cloud will work, but rather whether people are that in to music to do this (especially with a monthly fee), and can Apple pull it off without any glitches (like MobileMe had)? We’ll see in the next few weeks.

Remember, Apple’s ultimate goal isn’t necessarily to sell you another service to add to their revenue, its to make the iPhone more compelling than any Android, RIM or Windows phone. To get users to say, wow, that is really amazing, I need to get an iPhone because it fits me and my lifestyle.

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