Five years ago I wrote an article in which I said the following.
"Certainly if I considered the .Mac experience to be the best measure of Apple's web understanding, I would have to give Apple a failing grade. There is no way around it, .Mac is not worth what many of us pay for it."
It is hard to believe that five years later Apple could decide to make its new iCloud service free, and iCloud might even be less useful than .Mac or MobileMe.
When I read the Register's article, "Sacrifice Another Goat, iCloud is Apple's biggest failure...," I could only nod my head in aggreement.
"Apple's cloud services continue to be more than a blemish on the company's reputation. They are a serious black hole."
I am not really surprised that Apple hasn't figured out the cloud because Apple has never understood that to really be a web player you have to free the data from the device.
All you have to is look at the way iWeb was built. It tried its best to tie the website to a particular Mac. Using iWeb to build a website on multiple Macs required jumping through hoops and moving huge files around by thumbdrives.
The shame of Apple's failures in the cloud is that when it came to many things about the web, Apple was a leader. There was no easier way to put photos on the web than the original iPhoto.
Unfortunately that is no longer the case. Adding photos to your Picasa web albums, Google drive, Dropbox or your Microsoft Skydrive is much easier than fooling around with your photostream. If you take a hundred photos and want to put some of the best of them on the web, it is easy to do with any of the products besides Apple's iCloud.
Interestingly ever since I bought my original Droid in 2010, all the photos that I have chosen to be on the web have been automatically been synced to my phone, the web, and any computer that I choose. In fact even with a couple of Gmail accounts to my name, things have worked perfectly with my contacts and mail. I haven't had a glitch in over two years. I can use Gmail as a web client or with Apple mail, Postbox, or Thunderbird. It doesn't matter.
With Google's services I have access to my contacts, email, and photos from Windows, Linux, Lion, and all my older Macs.
With iCloud, my older Macs are completely shut out from iCloud unless I use Safari. Interestingly my former MobileMe accounts work fine in Postbox and Thunderbird on Windows 7. More importantly all the photos that I put on Picasa web albums and Flickr are still there instead of mysteriously appearing unannounced in my most recent iPhoto library and disappearing from the web.
I believe that unless Apple can figure out the cloud, the great products may not matter. With the frustrations that I have had with Apple's software, I am less inclined to try the company's new hardware.
Recent tests that show the Nexus 7 tablet besting the iPad just confirm my recent unfortunate experience with Apple hardware which has a long tradition of being the best. Since 2004, I have purchased five Windows laptops and two Mac laptops. All of my Windows laptops except one which someone sat on are still running. Neither of my Mac laptops are functional. It is a small sample, but it has to influence my personal decision on hardware purchases especially since the two Mac laptops cost almost as much as the five Windows laptops.
The iMac that I purchased in October 2010 has also been problematic. I am now running it off an external drive with Lion after having serious problems with slow Snow Leopard. We have three Windows 7 laptops that have been models of software stability and reliability. I don't say that to slam Apple but to convey my personal experience which has shaken my faith in Apple hardware and software.
When you add Apple lack's of understanding of the web, poor implementation of iCloud, and software problems, it makes you wonder if Apple is on the right track.
I remain hopeful, but seriously how many years is it going to take Apple to figure out the web?
Fortunately Apple's issues tend to fade in importance when I get out on the water in my kayak or have a blue water morning in our skiff, but those are advantages of life by the river in the summer. It works better for me than living in a metropolitan area where an Apple Store is always tempting you.
By the way this is the 400th post that I have written for Applepeels. Only a handful of them are still online, but the book is coming this summer. If you have ever wondered what it was like to spend nearly twenty years at Apple, you will be able to read my story soon.