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Yesterday, shortly after the passing of Steve Jobs was reported, my Twitter feed and Facebook news items were almost exclusively reflections and tributes for the co-founder of Apple. Amongst the quotes and condolences, one comment stuck out for me :
“Steve Jobs is in the iCloud now.”
That particular statement resonated with me as I’ve been commenting on cloud storage and cloud computing options such as the Chromebook in recent posts. Up to this point in time, cloud-based activity has really been restricted to enterprise and corporate budgets, investing in their own servers and managing them internally.
Google Documents and Microsoft’s Skydrive have both offered a solution for online document and file management, but neither has yet reached the point of mainstream acceptance. Google’s Chrome OS, which is currently appearing on a few specially designed portable PCs, is the closest to a fully cloud-reliant system.
Steve Jobs announced iCloud back in June of this year, and when launched will be the easiest way to take advantage of cloud storage, particularly if you own multiple iDevices. Photos, music, documents, even contacts and calendar info will be grabbed from your device and pushed to other devices in your sphere of iOS devices. And in typical Steve Jobs style, the focus was not on the technology or innovation behind this rethink of how we use our connected devices – Steve wanted us to know that “It just works”.
A YouTube clip of Steve Jobs on stage in 1997 demonstrates just how visionary Steve Jobs was and where he saw the future of computing – not just for calculations and localised processing, but as a truly connected communications system that ultimately rendered localised storage moot.
Back in the late 90’s, we were still talking about large, clunky desktops; this has evolved to the sleek notebooks and touch screen products we now take for granted. The advancements in cellular and wireless technology means information is always within our grasp – and iCloud is in a perfect position to change the local storage paradigm that most of us still live by.
Here is the original 1997 discussion on server-based storage that back then would have sounded pretty fantastical, especially considering the infrastructure users would have had to create for their own mini-cloud.
And here is the slick, all-encompassing service that Apple will be offering from October 12th as part of the iOS 5 update.
It took 14 years to arrive at this point, but the iCloud release is an important landmark that will again disrupt industry standards and move end users to online storage without needing to know the details of server farms or network grids.
Ironically, this may stimulate further growth in competing cloud-based products and services because of this shift to mainstream that Apple will be creating. After all, as Steve Jobs once said, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.”
Steve Jobs’ legacy is not just in the products he invented and produced, which have become treasured objects as much as technological achievements. The ripples, indeed waves, of his influence will be felt as we evolve into an age where how we do things is just as important as what we do them on.
Steve Jobs, Rest In Peace.
(Feel free to leave your own reflections and comments on what you think is Steve Jobs’ greatest contribution.)