Welcome to the Internet, Steve

Does the release of iCloud mean Apple finally gets the Web?

By Farhad Manjoo

Steve Jobs introduces iCloud.Steve Jobs introduces iCloudApple has never quite embraced the Internet. Sure, it runs the world’s largest digital store, selling more music and apps than anyone else. But if you believe that the "cloud" is becoming the nexus of computing—if you believe we’re entering an era in which we’ll store most of our music, movies, photos, and documents online, making them available wherever we have a network connection—Apple’s products have long seemed antiquated. The iPhone and iPad, for instance, have always required you to sync data through a wired connection with your PC—an annoying tic that lags far behind Google’s cable-shunning Android OS.

I don’t think it’s right to say that Apple didn’t get the cloud. It’s more that the Internet’s everything’s-free ethos hasn’t meshed with the company’s business model. Apple makes loads of money by selling hardware and software at a huge markup. The idea of giving stuff away—and supporting that plan through ads—was anathema to Steve Jobs and company. Apple charged $99 a year for MobileMe, its online e-mail and calendar sharing and syncing system. Google, of course, gives all those programs away for nothing.

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