Apple's Tuesday announcement outlined a number of talking points Steve Jobs is expected to tackle at WWDC next week whipping analysts into a frenzy over what is being seen as revolutionary upgrades.
The consumer electronics giant said yesterday that Jobs will return to the stage at its World Wide Developer conference next Monday to present Mac OS 10.7 Lion and iOS5. More importantly, some analysts are contending, is the announcement of its hosted services platform, the iCloud.
The cloud could well be one of the landmark event for Apple and its users as the tech giant is the changes may narrow the gap between Macs and iPod or iPhone or iPad and connect everything to the cloud.
Sterne Agee analysis Shaw Wu notes says that this new service could be a very big deal, not only for consumers, but for Apple itself.
We notice that every time a new feature is added to iTunes (like TV and movie rentals), its utility value increases, which in turn drives more hardware sales, i.e., iPhone, iPad and Macs, Wu said in a note to investors.
Apple has embarked on what could be the largest data center in the world in Maiden, North Carolina in recent months. The half a million square feet center, expected to go live this spring, will give Apple massive computing to accomplish a number of things not possible before.
RBC's Mike Abramsky said that iCloud would let Apple exploit licensing and digital rights management, consumer friendliness, and a massive existing install base of more than 200 million iOS devices, plus iTunes users.
Apple's licensing relationships and 'controlled' platform may appeal to studios/publishers seeking to minimize piracy, while protecting their economics in a hosted model, Abramsky wrote in a note to investors on Wednesday. iCloud may also be differentiated via Apple's trademark user experience for convenience, simplicity, and discoverability. iCloud APIs may in time extend to developers.
The half a million square feet center will also give Apple massive computing power that users can also exploit and benefit from, like streaming music and video and a digital locker service.
With the focus on iCloud and software, Wu believes that the new iPhone will not be launched at the event, but that may not matter.
We believe reaching cloud music deals would be a great start and further distance AAPL from GOOG, AMZN, MSFT, and others, which in the last 10 years or so have failed to put even a minor dent to iTunes.
Apple's WWDC will take place from June 6 to June 10.