Friday, October 14, 2011

iCloud is featureless and juvenile

And in conclusion I'm canceling, disabling, and deleting all of my iCloud accounts because for the price it not only does live up to a single expectation but that which it might do is more about vendor lock-in than service, form or function. It's time for the makes of DropBox, Box.net, crashplan and SugarSync to step up to the plate with everything they can. iCloud is going to fall like a house of cards if they do not update ASAP.

Cue in the flashback ringtone like in the movie/TV "Wayne's World"

I've been a DropBox user for about a year. I really like the Sync properties. I've managed to use it cross platform between my Windows box running inside a VMWare Fusion session, my Linux instances running on Rackspace hardware and my several Macs. I like their public folders, media folders and their iPhone application. Sure it's missing a few things but "this" is a sync function I really like. (I have a 50GB account and I'm considering a 100GB and team account for the family.)

I also use Box.net for smaller files and their plug-ins for LinkedIn and WordPress. Since I can produce proper PDF and RTF versions of my resume and some detailed project work. These folders and documents are inherited immediately by the plugins and I do not have any additional work. It's very sweet. The immediate challenge for Box is that the desktop app requires a business account. While I am happy that they gave me a 50GB account free for life it's a pretty hollow victory because they do not have any apps that I can use with it. Clearly I need a sync like DropBox.

CrashPlan is by far one of my favorites. Before DropBox I had a small cluster of machines in the house that would sync ... and then I upgraded to the cloud version and I even opted for the non-free desktop software. The good news here is that I have an unlimited account. The better news is that my wife has all of our video and pictures saved in the could and after 5 years of marriage she has collected over 200GB of pictures and video. (One day soon I will need to perform a restore so make sure all of this stuff is good.)

And now iCloud. I recently wrote about iTunes and iTunes Match etc ... so I will not rehash that conversation. But I can say that I was expecting iCloud to be more like DropBox and it is not.  iCloud seems to be a slightly more polished version of MobileMe (which I never purchased).

Things started to go downhill when I was required to create a new appleid for my devices. It first I used my current email address but then when I tried to activate some features it wanted to create a new ID... and then the ID needed to be @me.com.  They did not give me a way to change the AppleID and in the end I needed to delete the ID and start again. Of course as I started to delete all the wrong IDs I had used I started getting warning messages from Apple that the "whatever the module data was" was about to be deleted. Since this was a one-way trip I just let them delete whatever they were going to delete and let the chips fall where they may. I can only hope that this did not include my pictures.

The iCloud website it a sugar coated website that is trying to look like my Mac OSX system and while it performs nicely it is strictly limited to the 5 applications. (calendar, contacts, email(and not even all of my Mail.app email accounts just the one @me.com account), find my mac, and the last one escapes me for the moment.) I was really expecting to see a filemanager like iDisk, DropBox or Box.net.

Since my wife and I share our current AppleID for our iPhones, iPad, iTunes etc... I was expecting to be able to share everything else. Well iCloud for storage treats us separately as far as the cloud storage is concerned. So if I had to do it I would need a 300GB account for her and a 50GB for me. (if they could sync my drive like DropBox.) However, the price for this will never compare to what I pay for at CrashPlan and I get so much more for my money.

And that's when the camel's back finally broke. I have 2 iPhones with 32GB storage each. I have an iPad with 16GB storage. I have 2 MacBooks with 1TB storage and a MacBook Air with 64GB. Oh, and there is one Mac Mini with 1TB storage too, When I put all of this together and I figure out what is really going where. iCloud just cannot do it.

If you've every imagined what a cancer looks like when it makes that connection between itself and the host you can only image that it looks a little like a Mandelbrot. The same might be said of the pads of a chameleon's foot pads. So as I look back at my first Mac Mini + iPod purchase 5 years ago ... I realize that there is a lot more going on here than just a simple evolution. Whether Apple was ready to deliver on the promise that was iCloud or not is irrelevant. Someone at Apple has decided that I am worth $XXX dollars a year in goods and services and they way that they make that happen is with underperforming releases with a splash of eureka. (It's like a sampling of name-your-favorite-additive-drug.)

Man o man, this is turning into a rant that I was not expecting...

So what is the plan? If things do not change radically over the next year or so I will likely end up going over to the Android side. MetroPCS has a an all you can eat plan for 50/mo (I want to cut the core to ATT completely by dropping my land line). I'll also get a Dell Z series for about half the price of my MacBook and my MB Air.

PS: Ubuntu One has a change at things. I've used their product for a while but they do not have a Mac version. I'm not certain that I need one for now. But there are some interesting options with the VMWare solution. (more on that later).

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