The iPod wasn’t the first digital audio player. Far from it; the earliest mobile MP3 devices preceded it by at least four years. Yet Apple’s all-conquering machine made the market its own by being the first to get it right, with a pocket-sized form factor, a then-massive storage capacity and a straightforward front end that was extremely easy to use.
Likewise, the graphical user interface wasn’t invented by Apple. As the Cupertino-based company’s detractors are fond of pointing out, the first computer with what we would recognise as a modern GUI was born at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center, PARC. However, Xerox did next to nothing with it but licence the technology to Apple, who incorporated its key concepts into its Lisa and Mac computers and changed the world.
In a similar vein, Apple’s MobileMe is far from being the world’s first cloud computing service, but despite industry giants Microsoft and Google fighting it out to be the champions of computing’s new frontier, like the pre-Apple digital audio player and GUI before it, the concept has yet to fulfil its potential. Could Apple, long lauded as masters of the easy-to-use interface, finally popularise cloud computing, a concept which (somewhat ironically given its name) has yet to get off the ground?
Born out of the ailing .Mac service, Apple’s new MobileMe bundle was announced at the Worldwide Developers’ Conference this month, and launches on 11th July. Now available to Windows and iPhone users as well as the Mac faithful, its integrated services aim to make it easy to synchronise several different devices, an endeavour that’s always been far more complicated than it needed to be in the past.
For example, amendments or additions to a user’s contacts or calendars are instantly forwarded, or ‘pushed’, to all his or her devices. Likewise, received emails appear on every participating Mac, PC and iPhone. Bundled storage capacity has increased to 20GB, and you can now upload files to your server space and share them with other net users by emailing a link.
Separated at birth?