The dumbing-down of the iCloud
June 24th, 2011 by scaredpoet


It’s kind of interesting, going back along the years in this blog, and seeing how technology-wise, I evolved from a total Apple hater to a complete Apple fanboy.  Unfortunately, some things have begun to irk me lately about some decisions at Apple, that may eventually cause the pendulum of my preferences to swing back again.

First is this whole business with Apple’s latest version of Final Cut Pro.  For veterans of the software, this latest release is a huge step backward. What’s wrong with it? Well… let’s let Team CoCo explain it to us…


As for me, I can sorta shrug at Final Cut Pro X, because I never really was a big FCP user.  As a holdover from my Microsoft-Windows-using days, my experience in video editing comes from using Adobe Premiere Pro.  Granted, I’ve got some gripes against Adobe too, particularly with their acquisition of certain historically-bad technologies, but at least Adobe has yet to really screw up their historically-good apps.  Yet.

What’s really chapping my hide though, is Apple’s decision to dumb down a rather useful cloud-based service that they’ve had for a few years now, Mobile Me.  Granted, the launch of this service was pretty damned disastrous.  But for those of us who stuck with it, it’s become a very useful way to store all kinds of files, sync up calendars, share photos, and make everything “just work.”  And just work it has…. up until now.

You see, it seems that although Mobile Me works great the way it is, Steve Jobs never quite got over the sting of his pride and joy being buggy and getting a little bad press when it was initially rolled out.  So much so that a mere name change isn’t enough.  And so, the reaction has been to take all of the most stable, useful features, and get rid of them…

So, that cloud file storage that every sane human being and even other companies think is a really useful feature that makes the Cloud something worth using?  Gone.  Photo sharing with others?  Gone.  Got a web page on your Mobile Me account?  Sorry, it’s gotta move too.

In their place?  Well… you can sync up the last 30 days or 1,000 photos between your iDevices, whichever is less.  And by “Documents in the Cloud,” Apple defines “Documents” as only those documents made by iWork or iLife.  Any other file made by other app doesn’t apply.

I love my iPhone.  I love my iPad.  I love my Macs.  But this makes no sense.  And it’s making my love my Apple shwag just a little bit less.

What irks me most about this change is that it seems to punish the very users Apple should be rewarding: those power users who use Apple stuff not because it’s chic or stylistic, but because they have powerful, useful features while still being easy to use.  I didn’t get a mac because it looked pretty; I got it because it permitted me to use widely used applications will still having a powerful UNIX interface under the hood.  I bought an iPhone not because it would make my experience with twitter overbearingly seamless, but because it did very useful smartphone functions without a lot of annoying puffery and glitz, and did it well.

And I used Mobile Me because it was nice to be able to take a file from work, drag it to an iDisk icon on the desktop, and have that file waiting for you on your computer at home, or your mobile device, without you even having to think much about it.  It was nice to be able to throw up a nice looking photo gallery that you could share with anyone, and even let them download a neat zip archive with your whole album at a single click if they wanted to.

And really, there’s no reason to NOT continue having these features… particularly since the users who use them were willing to pay for it.  But now. with a dumbed-down, less-useful but free version waiting in the wings, a user like me will be using iCloud a lot less, even though I won’t be required to pay for it.  In fact, I’m probably going to end up paying someone else to provide the service I want.  That’s less money in Apple’s pocket, and more money to their competitors.  How does that make any sense?


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