Apple and the Cloud: A Cautionary Tale


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make sure the fonts work properly on all devices? Google is working on this now. Is Apple?

Build the personal data locker. Join and help build the standards that will allow everyone to have a personal data locker. Then move the Apple experience to the cloud and create the best personal data locker experience in the world. It’s hard to see, but this may one day replace all the hardware and all the apps and all the stores. Ten years from now, the data locker could be where the Apple experience lives and thrives.

Start imagining the browser-based data-driven user experience. Apple may not excel at data, but Apple excels at user interfaces. To build the best personal data locker, Apple will need to learn how to present information natively in the cloud, viewable by anyone from any device. When the device doesn’t matter, the user experience still does. Gmail is currently the most impressive effort in this category—Apple has a long way to go to catch up.

Jumpstart vertical ecosystems. Set aside a measly $500 million and start the hundreds of companies that will be needed to build out data ecosystems and services in the top ten industries. I’m happy to head this up.

Help WiMax emerge. So far, Apple has left connectivity to the big telcos and cable companies, but their business models are also peaking. They charge for voice, text, and data, but all we really need is data. Apple could hedge this bet by partnering with those building the new data transmission grid around the globe.

Help protect basic Internet rights. Join AccessNow, a group of people working on keeping the Internet open and free to all.


Very little changes in a single year, but it’s surprising how much changes in 10 years. Companies like LG and Samsung may see the data-centered web as a chance to do to Apple what Apple did to Sony. IBM shows every day that they get it. Microsoft may look asleep now, but if they focus on data rather than apps, and if they can get Steve Ballmer to focus on his golf game, that could be the start of something big. Google is years ahead in this race already. I’m sure Apple’s TV offering will be slick, and selling gorgeous aluminum-skinned hardware is extremely profitable, and I love the glass staircases, but it can’t last forever. Apple may be worth half a trillion dollars, Facebook may get a billion users, but the Web itself is bigger than both combined. And HTML5 could level the playing field in a few short years.

While Apple has thousands of patents and many more fun surprises in the works, someday the entire Apple experience will be online. Eventually, most Apple products must become Apple cloud services, and this is exactly where the company is weakest. For companies sitting at the top of the heap today—Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.—the message should be clear: get more meaningful or get out of the way.

Next step: be sure to see my Personal Data Locker video, below.

After that, come to for more links and resources.

Personal Data Locker Vision from dsiegel on Vimeo.

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David Siegel is an author, consultant, and investor focusing on the future of technology, the Internet, and business. He has written three bestselling books about the Internet and started one of the first web design and strategy agencies, Studio Verso, which he sold to KPMG in 1999. He is an active angel investor and advisor to startups and the author of Pull: The Power of the Semantic Web to Transform Your Business. Follow @

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