You could see iCloud as Apple’s long-awaited move into the cloud – a response at last to what Amazon and Google have been doing in this space. But to my mind, from a brand point of view, iCloud supersedes because it once again joins the dots, and in so doing it both ring-fences and reinforces the Apple ecosystem.
One of the many things that Apple can teach others about branding is how consistently and persistently they link everything they do back to their purpose. While others continue to market features, Apple presents what it does as steps in the Apple journey. And with the proliferation of devices over the years, they have essentially created more on-ramps at more and more price points for people to join them on the road.
Syncing via the cloud not only makes sense of that proliferation of devices, it deftly sets the stage to reduce the desktop to another one of those gadgets. There’s a clear agenda here, from a brand point of view, to flatten the hierarchy between the power of the desktop and the mobility of other devices. Democratising function allows Apple to compete on multiple fronts on its terms at the same time as it brings into fundamental question the reason why people would restrict themselves to just the desktop.
To me, the convenience factor of iCloud is less important than the addictive quality of convenience – Apple have given users more reasons not to look or source elsewhere, and presented this as something that benefits device owners. It hardly needs pointing out that it doesn’t do Apple any harm either.
Add Apps Store into this mix and iTunes and Apple is not inviting you into the cloud, it is specifically inviting you into their cloud. Painless access to music and a wonderful choice of apps await.
The device is beautiful and important – but it’s just the start. Via apps and music, the device itself gains personal value at the same time as it makes what Apple offers feel more indispensible
What continues to unfold here is an immensely powerful strategy: lowered emotive cost of entry for the consumer (with multiple entry points and strong incentives to sign in), continued rewards (via upgrades, apps and music), heightened barriers for competitors and a high pain point to leave.
My sense is that a ‘war of the worlds’ looms as the big ICT brands look to pull consumers further into their worlds and further away from the worlds of others. With Windows 8, Microsoft certainly appears to be heading towards a consolidated environment. Expect big responses from the likes of Google/Android and Facebook.