Apple Partners Optimistic About iCloud's Business Impact

With iCloud, "People will start to become more creative with Apple products and that's what we want to help them do," said David Doyle, vice president of Simply Consulting, a Vancouver-based partner. "Services that make Apple more useful to people create business opportunities for us."

Apple’s plan with iCloud, released on Monday at Apple's WWDC 2011 in San Francisco, is to make Apple devices more useful in a few ways. Data from different Apple hardware devices can be automatically uploaded to iCloud, which will provide remote storage for user data. The iCloud service can then push that data back to up to 10 devices so that information stays constant across various pieces of hardware and is backed up on the cloud.

iCloud will work with iTunes and Apple's other applications, while third-party applications can also be modified to work with the service. For consumers, this could mean the convenience of synching photos seamlessly between their iPhone and iPad. For business, the implications could reach further.

"Some of our customers didn't want to use the Apple platform because there were things it couldn't do for them. iCloud could really give us a way to roll into some businesses that we didn't have before," said Doyle.

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iCloud is also expected to better serve both businesses and consumers by completely replacing the much-maligned MobileMe service, Apple’s synching service for calendar and contact information. The service also provided storage for photos and other documents, but it was riddled with technical problems early on. With the announcement of iCloud came the news that MobileMe would cease to exist as of June 30, 2012.

"Anything that replaces MobileMe for synching is a good thing," said Michael Oh, president of Boston-based partner Tech Superpowers. "We've sold it and supported it but it's never been a perfect solution for everyone."

For the past few years, Apple has used their WWDC to introduce new hardware. Last year the iPhone 4 was the big announcement and in 2009 there was the new line of MacBook Pro laptops to tout. Shifting the focus this year to a service like iCloud demonstrates a longer-term focus than the release of any particular device would, and this long-view has not been lost on partners.

"If CEOs and VPs pick up the iPad and they really like it, that gives them a reason to consider Apple in business and enterprise," said Oh, adding that, "it takes awhile for that door to open, but that's a huge revenue generator for us."

In addition to driving more businesses to adopt Apple products and services, Doyle thinks iCloud could benefit partners simply by improving the user experience around data synching and backup.

"Instead of dealing with customer frustration, it's dealing with customer excitement. We would rather coach them on how to do cool things instead of getting them to get things to work," he said.