Whoa, that was fast! Just in January, Apple reported that iCloud had 85 million users. Today, during Apple’s quarterly earnings call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealed that the company’s iCloud service has attracted 125 million users in roughly six months since the service launch, and it seems that Apple’s iCloud user base continues to grow at a steady pace.
Apple CEO Tim Cook also revealed that the service had hit 100 million users, which breaks down to an average of over 13 million new iCloud users since January.
iCloud is a free service that stores all your content and seamlessly syncs it across all your devices. It replaced the company’s predecessor paid subscription service called MobileMe with a more seamless and free service. The service being offered for free would probably explain the tremendous growth iCloud is seeing.
The online cloud storage war has just exploded with the introduction of Google Drive earlier today. With Google Drive, now all major mobile operating system providers have some form of proprietary cloud storage solution including SkyDrive for Windows Phone 7 and iCloud for iOS along with several others like Dropbox, Box and SugarSync.
Both iCloud and Google Drive provide users with 5GB storage space for free whereas SkyDrive provides users with 7GB free space out of the box. SkyDrive initially started out with 25GB free space, but it has now cut down the storage to 7GB. However, if you have been an old user of SkyDrive, you will still be able to claim 25GB of free space.
To reclaim your 25GB of free space in SkyDrive, you will have to login to your account in your browser. Once you do that, you will see a link on the top saying; SkyDrive’s free storage is changing – claim your free 25GB.
Clicking on the link will take you to the manage storage page where you will be given an option to upgrade your storage. Just click on the “Free upgrade” button to increase your storage to 25GB. This option will only be available for a limited time to users who have already used Windows Live SkyDrive in the past. New users will only receive 7GB of free online storage space.
If you are unable to get 25GB in SkyDrive, there are still several other options available including free 50GB space from Box if you are an Android user and up-to 18GB storage in Dropbox from referrals and free space.
Macgasm notes that Apple has started to notify some MobileMe users of a new upgrade program offering a free copy of Mac OS X Snow Leopard. This offer is being offered to provide users of Macs running older versions of Mac OS X the opportunity to upgrade to OS X Lion. In addition, this reduces cost of upgrading to OS X Lion, which is required to take full advantage of the features of iCloud.
In an article sent to MobileMe customers, Apple has recommended that potential customers get in touch with Apple to receive a free DVD of Snow Leopard so that users can upgrade to Lion, and move to iCloud. All you have to do is follow this link, log in to MobileMe with your Mobile Me account, and fill out your mailing information. Apple will then send you a Snow Leopard DVD for free.
Since OS X Lion is only available via the Mac App Store, users need to have Mac OS X Snow Leopard installed on their Macs. This allows users to access the store. Since MobileMe will be discontinued in favor of iCloud as of June 30th, Apple is encouraging MobileMe users to move their accounts to iCloud. Once again, it just goes to show how much Apple cares about its customers. I don’t know of any other company that would offer an entire OS for free so that users can use one of their products.
Mac OS X Snow Leopard is still available via the Apple online store for $29 for users wishing to purchase it.
In March, Apple began to offer users the option to re-download movies that were already purchased on iTunes via iCloud. The service also applies to the iTunes Digital Copy format, which allows users the ability to download a digital version of a film when they buy a DVD or Blu-ray disc. At launch, Universal Studios and Fox were initially absent from iCloud due to content deals with premium cable network HBO.
Starting from this weekend, Universal Pictures’ films have become available on iCloud. Users who have previously purchased the films from iTunes can re-download them at no cost, which leaves only one major studio, Fox, that is not part of iCloud.
Even though Universal’s Films are now available via iCloud, customers wanting to re-download 20th Century Fox films still must wait for that content. Last month it was reported that HBO has already reached an agreement and The Wall Street Journal said at the time that Fox expected to have its content on iCloud “within weeks”.
TV content is now available in high-definition 1080p. Previously, content maxed out at 720p, which was the highest resolution output of the previous generation Apple TV.
Yesterday, Apple sent out an email to users that are registered for its iWork.com beta. The email says that the company will be discontinuing the service as of July 31st. This discontinuation comes as Apple continues to further focus on iCloud. iCloud already offers an easy way for users to keep documents in sync among their various iOS devices.
Dear iWork.com user,
Thanks for participating in the iWork.com public beta.
Last year, we launched iCloud, a service that stores your music, photos, documents, and more and wirelessly pushes them to all your devices. Today, there are already over 40 million documents stored on iCloud by millions of iWork customers. Learn more about iCloud.
With a new way to share iWork documents between your devices using iCloud, the iWork.com public beta service will no longer be available. As of July 31, 2012, you will no longer be able to access your documents on the iWork.com site or view them on the web.
We recommend that you sign in to iWork.com before July 31, 2012, and download all your documents to your computer. For detailed instructions on how to save a copy of your documents on your computer, read this support article at Apple.com.
The iWork team
The shut down of iWork.com will occur a month after Apple officially shuts down its MobileMe services. Apple has continued to support MobileMe since the introduction of iCloud so that users are given plenty of time to move over to the new service. However, as of June 30th, MobileMe and several of its features such as Gallery, iWeb, and iDesk will no longer be available.
Apple first launched the iWork.com as a free beta in January 2009, with the company eventually hoping to offer the service with tools for collaboration on iWork documents for a fee. In the end, the service never exited beta, and due to iCloud offering similar features for moving documents, the company has decided to eliminate the program. Though iCloud does offer a variety of features, it does not offer the level of features once planned out for iWork.com yet.
Last week, it was reported that Apple had touted plans for a massive solar farm and fuel cell facility in Maiden, North Carolina. This would be right across from the company’s 500,000 square feet data center that powers iCloud. It will be the largest user-owned solar array in the United States, registering at 20 megawatts.
Today, GigaOm reports that Bloom Energy, maker of the “Bloom Box” energy server, is believed to be the supplier behind Apple’s planned 5-megawatt fuel cell farm in North Carolina. Up to 50 Bloom Boxes, each capable of supplying 100 killowatts of power, would meet Apple’s advertised 5-megawatt capacity at the new fuel cell farm.
Apple’s new fuel cell farm is believed to run on methane from organic waste, as well as oxygen. In addition, the fuel cell farm will provide more than 40 million kWh of f 24×7 baseload renewable energy annually.
The report also suggests that the company has also allegedly partnered with Bloom for “a few” fuel cells that are found on the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, CA.
While Apple has been suing other companies for IP and patent infringement, the company is also being sued by its competitors. Today, Apple has announced that it has to shut down iCloud push services in Germany. The reason for this is the successful Motorola bid for an injunction against the cloud syncing service over data pushing technology.
Apple published the news in the support section of its German website, and gave a brief summary of the injunction. Also, the company has listed out temporary solutions that iCloud users can follow while it tries to get the issue resolved by appealing against the decision, reports iPhone-ticker.de.
In addition, the suspension of Apple’s push services will stop the syncing of calendars and contacts for MobileMe until users change certain device settings. iCloud users will not be affected. The document also notes that iCloud and existing MobileMe users within the borders of Germany will not be able to receive push email at this time. All received messages will be still accesible via iCloud’s website or by changing an iOS’s device’s settings. However, all non-mobile products, such as Macs, are not affected.
Apple also states in the support that in the support document that they believe Motorola’s patent is invalid and is appealing the decision.
Last year, Steve Jobs talked about what powers iCloud during his WWDC keynote. It is a huge data center in Maiden, North Carolina that is 500,000 square feet and is about five times the size of the company’s existing Silicon Valley data center. Also, it costed $1 billion to build, which is twice of what Google and Microsoft generally invest in their cloud data centers. Recently, the company touted its solar farm across that gigantic data center.
Then in December, it was reported that Apple was “nearing a decision” on whether or not to build a brand new data center in Oregon. Today, KTVZ.com has received confirmation from the company that the company plans to build a new data center on a 160-acre lot in Prineville, Oregon. The land was reportedly purchased for $5.6 million from Crook County. This new data center will be located a quarter mile south of a Facebook server farm that opened earlier this year. Now, this is pretty ironic. Why? Because rumor has is it that Apple and Facebook have a love/hate relationship (ex: Ping lacking Facebook Connect integration).
The company also maintains a smaller data center in Newark, California and has been building out additional capacity in Santa Clara, California near its corporate headquarters in Cupertino.
Guess what iCloud is powered by? It is a huge data center in Maiden, North Carolina that is 500,000 square feet and is about five times the size of the company’s existing Silicon Valley data center. Also, it costed $1 billion to build, which is twice what Google and Microsoft generally invest in their cloud data centers.
A few months after, it was reported that Apple had begun work on a solar farm adjacent to its massive new data center in Maiden, North Carolina. Now, as noted by CNET, Apple has updated its environmental site with updated data for 2011, revealing a few pieces of new information about the company’s work on energy usage and other topics. In addition to revealing a few details about Apple’s new data center in Maiden, North Carolina, the company also notes that the solar farm being built across the data center will be the largest user-owned solar array in the United States, registering at 20 megawatts. Wait a second, I thought Apple didn’t care about the environment and yet they chose to use solar power.
Finally, the company will also be powering the facility with a 5-megawatt fuel cell installation, the largest in the country not owned by a utility company. Additional details are available in the company’s facilities report (PDF).
After several leaks of upcoming SkyDrive features made the rounds on the internet in the past few days, Microsoft confirmed a bunch of fantastic updates to SkyDrive on their Building Windows 8 blog today.
Let’s look at what was announced in the post by Omar Shahine and Mike Torres, Group Program Managers for SkyDrive:
- Metro-style SkyDrive app for Windows 8
- Windows Explorer integration of SkyDrive
- SkyDrive.com browsing of remote computer files
In addition, several other items were confirmed:
- The SkyDrive desktop app is not limited to Windows 8. It will be supported on Windows 7 and Windows Vista as well. Curiously (and perhaps, deliberately?) no mention of a Mac desktop app, even though the screenshot leaks showed there may be a Mac app coming as well.
- The post also confirmed that SkyDrive, which offers 25GB free as of today, will have the ability to get upgraded. Obviously, no details were mentioned about the pricing or the tiers, but finally we have official confirmation that we will be able to upgrade that storage, so we can use it meaningfully as a “personal cloud”.
- SkyDrive was recently updated to handle file sizes of up to 100MB, but in today’s day and age it could be a limiting factor, especially with videos. Today we have confirmation that we will be able to upload files with sizes up to 2GB!
- With the remote file browsing feature, we also have confirmation that there will be 2-factor authentication required, unless those PCs are trusted PCs.
Finally, because SkyDrive app will be available to any other app in Windows 8 via Charms and Contracts, every app developer now has access to the SkyDrive. Any app which opens and saves documents and photos, will automatically be able to use SkyDrive for the purpose. This will be a wonderful feature for app developers as well as customers, who will have instant access to their SkyDrive files in Windows 8.