Huge raft of announcements at the WWDC in San Francisco this morning. There were no great surprises on OS X Lion other than the giveaway price of $29.99 (£20.99) and the move entirely to App Store downloads: No disks this time round. Again, Apple is leading the way to the future when the new OS will wafts in over the air next month.
iOS 5, though, is another matter. Despite the rumour mill, the details had been kept pretty much under wraps and there were more than a few surprises. The one we were all hoping for, but not really expecting, was the severance of the umbilical cord to a PC or Mac. With iOS 5, scheduled for the Autumn, it will be possible to install, sync and backup your iPhone, iPad or iPhone touch without ever connecting it to a computer. Undoubtedly wired sync has been one of the great annoyances for iOS users and it’s almost too good to be true to think that the wait is nearly over.
While the new iCloud service doesn’t offer true music streaming like Spotify, it does provide much more for free than had been rumoured. It becomes the new digital hub for all devices, including Macs, and will offer photo and music storage as well as seamless synchronisation of documents. It had been expected that iCloud would offer synchronisation of purchased music across all devices, but the surprise is that all your existing music, not just iTunes purchases, can be scanned and turned into 256kpbs music-in-the-cloud for a modest subscription of $24.99 a year. The whole basis of the new services is that you can stream the new version of your purchased or owned music to any of your devices without the need first to upload your library. It’s a brilliant move and will further enhance the already potent attraction of the Apple ecosystem.
The result of all this is that Apple, purveyors of the most premium of premium computer systems, are also providers of the cheapest and most accessible ecosystem in the industry. The overriding impression is that costs and subscriptions have been reduced to almost nothing while the returns for the consumer are rising exponentially.
There is marketing method in this without a doubt. Apple intends to suck in the customers for free and then make (large) profits as apps and other services are purchased. It’s called a loss leader. Just imagine, for starters, that every iPhone, iPad and iPod touch owner will have free access to Apple’s email services and to all the wonderful facilities provided by iCloud. All these new owners have to do is hand over their credit card details and think no more of it. Click, click.
Today was a huge day for Apple and, once again, the Jobs’ Crew is ahead of the pack.