Apple's cloud strategy took another step forward this week with the Cupertino, Calif.-based computing giant's supposed purchase of the domain iCloud.com for a reported $4.5 million.
Apple has been slowly but steadily sharpening its cloud computing claws to capitalize on the growing market and battle competition like Amazon and Google.
Apple bought iCloud.com from Xcerion, a Sweden-based desktop-as-a-service company. iCloud.com was also the name of a storage-as-a-cloud service offered by Xcerion, according to a report from GigaOm that sites sources close to Apple's iCloud.com purchase. GigaOm's Om Malik reported that a source familiar with Xcerion said the company sold Apple the iCloud.com domain for roughly $4.5 million.
Xcerion also changed its Web address to CloudMe.com and its storage-as-a-service offering to CloudMe. On its new Web site, the company wrote: "We are pleased to announce that iCloud is now CloudMe."
The iCloud.com purchase could be a sign that Apple is prepping a cloud storage offering where users can store music, images and other digital media. It comes on the heels of rumors that Apple will update its MobileMe play to include a "digital locker" service for cloud storage. Apple is also said to updating MobileMe to include a new media streaming and a feature that lets users find friends and share locations.
Apple has also been said to be prepping a cloud-based version of its iTunes service, which could also be part of a MobileMe update.
Apple's new versions of MobileMe and iTunes could be announced as early as Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, slated to kick off June 6 at San Francisco's Moscone Center.
An improved MobileMe would come on the heels of Amazon launching new cloud services with its Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player, services which let users store digital content in the cloud and stream that content to various devices.
Apple has also been boosting its cloud posture in other ways. Last month Apple posted a job listing seeking a Cloud Systems Software Engineer to write software that "forms the foundation" of some of Apple's "most exciting new products and services." The posting adds that the ideal candidate will have experience "designing, implementing and supporting highly scalable applications and Web services" and will "collaborate with cross-functional engineering teams to define and implement some of the company's core backend platform frameworks and systems."
Apple also recently hired a Microsoft cloud computing guru to help it hone its cloud offerings. Microsoft has confirmed for CRN that Kevin Timmons, its general manager of Datacenter Services, has left his post. Reports said Timmons will join Apple after years of being instrumental in Microsoft's build out of data centers to support is cloud computing initiatives. Apple has already built a massive data center in North Carolina, which is expected to be fully operational come spring and could serve as the hub for Apple's cloud computing push.