Device operating systems

Apple Finds Friends, Synchs With iCloud

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL)'s much-anticipated operating system update, iOS 5, and iCloud service will begin shipping on Oct. 12, bringing with them several new apps and the promise of wireless synching.

Apple iCloud lets users access their apps, music and media from any iOS device without needing to synch to a computer. Apple will support up to 10 devices and 5GB of storage free of charge, top execs announced Tuesday at Apple's iPhone 4S soiree in Cupertino, Calif. (See Apple: By the Numbers.)

Apple also revisited iTunes Match, a service that lets music listeners create playlists from any song on their computer. The service uploads all the music it can find in iTunes to the cloud and matches whatever it can from the user's PC, caching and streaming all the content right on the device.

Apple showed off new apps that will take advantage of cloud as well. A new Cards app lets users create a greeting card on their phone, which Apple then prints and sends old school style as snail mail to the selected recipient. Another new app called Find My Friends, similar to Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Latitude, lets users share their location within pre-set parameters and locate their contacts that do the same. (See Apple Borrows From Competitors for iOS 5.)

The iTunes Match service will cost $24.99 per year. Apple SVP of Internet Software and Services Eddy Cue also promised iOS 5 and iCloud will bring tremendous upgrades to the iPod Touch, which Apple introduced updates to on Tuesday.

Why this matters
Apple's iCloud is the linchpin in the company's plan to inflict even more damage to the PC market, and it's more about the synch than the storage. By enabling wireless synching, it's taking the PC out of the equation. It is also making Apple products much more valuable than the hardware itself. (See Will the iPad Eat the PC Market?, There's a Niche in the Mobile Cloud and Welcome to the Hotel Cupertino.)

As with Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN)'s new Fire tablet, the value is in Apple's ability to lock customers into its iDevice ecosystem and receive recurring revenues regardless of which device(s) they own. (See Amazon's $199 Tablet Is No Loss Leader.)

For more
Get caught up on the iPhone phrenzy.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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