Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Clouds, Macs and ecosystems

I am fascinated by the difference between becoming an Apple user and remaining an eclectic user of a range of tools.

I can see the appeal for Apple users, as they get integrated units, an ecosystem of hardware and software that all work together.  And now that iCloud seems like the direction they are going in, then you get all your files stored online, accessible from any Apple unit that forms part of that unified field, and which you can edit without complications with the formatting.

There is the trade-off (for reliability) of living in a walled garden, however.

iCloud: The Future of Apple's ecosystem, on Mac Stories.

Google seems to have chosen to go the web route, the 'open' system which can be accessed from any gadget or device that has access to the web.  Google also have a cloud approach (GoogleDocs, etc) with both files and software stored online, but more universally accessible (if rather less simple and reliable).

How the Apple iCloud compares to Google's Cloud on Computer World.

Perhaps it depends whether you like the lock-in that investing in Mac, apps, etc tends to create, or prefer more promiscuous use of whatever tools come to hand, accessible by more routes.

Apple users remain so loyal because of the reliability of the product (things should ‘just work’). Which is great, of course, and very impressive. Apple as a business can claim to retain customers better than most, in a fickle world of accelerating change. This does not only have to do with reliability and integration, however, but the difficulty of migrating out, once committed to that system.

Not to say that Apple has addictive qualities.

Still, given that they remain a niche product, there remains an argument for variety, the equivalent to being multi-lingual. Using eclectic mixes of tools has its hazards, and sometimes frustrations, when systems do not prove fully compatible, but gives the user access to a wider range of possibilities, not just in future developments, but in moving between platforms.

You pays yer money, as they say, and take your choice.

I don't feel totally sold on Clouds, as it happens.  I still have the experience of going to a training centre with 'thin clients' when the network went down, and all the students had was a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse each.  No computers, no contingency plans for the tutor, etc.  No doubt, when it all becomes stable, it may appear the way to go.  I only recently suffered the Blackberry meltdown, so I know about dependency.  And if all computing activity had to come through a 'utility' pipeline, rather than owning my own freestanding computer, then I can see dependency (and prices) increasing.

Not to mention security issues, and not having local copies of your own data. (shudder).

Cloud Computing topic centre at Computer World.

Apple’s Greatest Advantage: The Apple Ecosystem on GigaOm

Cloud Computing on Wikipedia

Varsitech explains Cloud Computing

1 comment:

  1. Hi Toby.
    As an eclectic PC user with an old Mac sitting in the corner slowly gathering boat anchor status I read your article regarding Apple and their "Cloud" with interest. I think I'll hang on to the responsibility for my information thanks. Paper, photographs, CD's, hard drives and DVD's are fast to access and great for redundancy.

    Enjoying your writings from Downunder

    Roni Francois (remember me?)
    Alias: Franck Ronaldo