Next week at the WWDC, Apple will introduce its latest creation, iCloud, a cloud based service that analysts say could surpass Amazon's and Google's existing offerings in both users and sales.
Apple hasn't given many details on the cloud based service, but sources tell The Wall St. Journal the company has reached a deal with major recorded-music companies including Warner Music Group Corp., Sony Corp.'s Music Entertainment and EMI Group. The deal will give users a place to store their music and sync it automatically to any number of Apple devices.
Video and other multimedia files are expected to be a part of the cloud services storage capacity. Apple has not given a price point for the service, but some analysts believe regardless of its cost, the new iCloud service could boost Apple's already impressive sales numbers.
We continue to look for Apple to use its iCloud service to lock in customers to its ecosystem by making content available seamlessly on all of its devices (iPhones, iPads, iPod Touches & Macs), Barclays Capital analyst Ben A. Reitzes said in a note.
Amazon and Google recently got into the cloud storage industry with their own offerings. Both companies allow users to upload music to a remote server where they can be streamed to any number of devices. Amazon's cloud offering is free for the 5GB of storage, and beyond that it can be bought in intervals of 50GB, 100GB, 200GB, 500GB, and 1,000GB, with each costing $1 per gigabye. Thus you get 1,000 GB for $1,000. Google did not reveal its price.
However, because of the existing Apple ecosystem, analysts like Reitzes do not see price point as a matter of importance. He says Apple has much greater growth potential than the others.
We believe that Apple could charge a recurring fee for this service and will likely offer much more available memory than competitors since its users have much larger libraries of music, movies and photos. We believe that Apple realizes this offering could help it sell more Macs, iPhones, iPods and iPads - and the acceleration of its capex growth could be an indication of its potential, Reitzes said.
He isn't the only analyst to have faith in Apple's iCloud. UBS Analyst Maynard Um increased Apple's price target to $510 due and his Apple sales estimates across the board because of the iCloud. Like Reitzes, he points to the existing Apple ecosystem as his reasoning.
We believe the majority of value created from such a service would be in the continued improvement of the Apple ecosystem value proposition rather than driving material profits by itself. Apple wants to sell hardware at high margins, and the company has been successful at doing so over the last decade in part because of the high value proposition it offers consumers with services like iTunes. Significant enhancements to that ecosystem spur the sale of more hardware to consumers, Um said in a note.
Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu says iCloud will make Apple's iTunes even more powerful. All three analysts maintained buys on Apple.