We are just hours away from the Apple WWDC 2011 keynote. Steve Jobs and other Apple executives will be hosting the WWDC 2011 keynote starting at 10am PDT. Apple has announced the major topics they will be talking about, but the core details remain a secret. Several rumors over the weekend try to unravell the mystery on what exactly iCloud is, but in my opinion still failed to give the complete picture.
John Gruber at Daring Fireball keeps it real vague this time around with his WWDC 2011 prelude. He sees the main angle of iCloud in replacing the USB based syncing of media of iTunes. He says that mobileMe is here to stay, but iCloud would overlap. If true that would be a major disappointment and seems unlikely to me. It is important for Apple to establish a very clear message with iCloud. iCloud needs to encompass every cloud service. MobileMe needs to die and email, file syncing etc. needs to be part of iCloud. I agree with Gruber that iCloud will be dominated by iTunes media features. This is the part of iCloud that most users will be using. Apple would need to sync all media via the iCloud to make USB obsolete including movies. Bandwidth is though still an issue here. If Apple has a deal in place to store movies online and stream it to mobile devices is uncertain.
Cult of Mac has a rumor that circles around a new Time Capsule to be used as distributed personal storage through iCloud. To access my data stored on my local Time Capsule through iCloud anywhere sounds enticing and believable. I do not see it though as the predominant way iCloud will work as the barrier of entry is to high. A current 1TB Time Capsule sells for $299. If Apple would require all iCloud users to by a new Time Capsule to use iCloud it would be off to a very, very slow start. I see the Time Capsule iCloud syncing as a premium option.
The oldest rumor of what iCloud will offer is around a music locker service. Apple has been rumored to have now deals in place with all four major US music labels that allows them to stream music to users stored in the cloud. Because of license deals, Apple will be able to offer a comfortable music locker service that does not require to up load your music media files. In the ideal world, you just will sign in with your iTunes account into iCloud and everything is there.
A price tag for iCloud has also made its rounds in the rumor mill in the last days triggered by the LA Times. $25 per year is what Apple is supposed to charge. What an acceptable price will be for iCloud is remains to be seen. The $99 per year Apple charged for mobileMe was a barrier of adoption. You can get almost alll features Apple offers through mobileMe for free from Google and others. Apple's iCloud needs to provide a lot of unique value for Apple to charge for it.
I still expect more concrete rumor on what Apple is going to unveil at the WWDC 2011 keynote in the next hours.