Apple's new iCloud and iOS 5 offer some features seemingly designed to counter similar efforts from Microsoft's Windows Phone and RIM's BlackBerry.
Apple kicked off its annual
Worldwide Developers Conference with the unveiling of three new platforms: Mac
OS X "Lion," iOS 5 and iCloud. Combined, this trifecta aims to fulfill the
company's vision of a "post-PC" world, one that emphasizes mobile devices over
desktops and laptops.
Mac OS X "Lion" includes a
baked-in Mac App Store, with access to a variety of full-screen applications.
This feature is a spiritual descendent of the App Store long available for iOS
devices such as the iPhone and iPad, and hints at just how much the company's
advances in mobility have begun to influence its other areas of development.
Apple's iOS 5, meanwhile,
will come with a variety of new features seemingly tailor-made to counter its
rivals. There's a new camera shortcut, accessible via the lock screen,
reminiscent of a similar function in Microsoft's Windows Phone.
"Feeling flattered today.
Lots of great [Windows Phone] ideas headed to iOS," Joe Belfiore, corporate
vice president of Windows Phone program management, Tweeted June 6
button/above lock, auto-upload of pics, better notifications ...)"
Apple also introduced
iMessenger, a robust conversation platform that lets users carry a single
conversation between their various iOS devices. Almost immediately following
that unveiling, analysts positioned the feature as a potential threat to
Research In Motion's BlackBerry Messenger.
"Anyone with an iPad, iPhone
or iPod Touch can send unlimited free text messages to anyone else using an iOS
device," Peter Misek, an analyst with research firm Jefferies & Co., wrote
in a June 7 research note. "The two mainstays of RIM's sales have been corporate
email users and consumer BBM [BlackBerry Messenger] users. While Apple lacks
RIM's NOC/node infrastructure that allows for BBMing without a data plan with
some carriers, iMessage otherwise is a direct competitor."
Apple could become a deeper
threat to RIM, he argued, if it launches a "low-cost iPhone in the fall
targeted at prepaid and emerging markets."
On top of a glimpse of the
two new operating systems, Apple also whipped the curtain back from its
upcoming iCloud service, which will sync user content and push it to various
devices via the cloud. Contacts, calendar and mail are now free and
cloud-centric, with Apple's servers pushing messages and updates to iPhones and
iPads. With iCloud, users can also sync and access their iTunes music via the
Misek's research note dings
the iCloud as "mostly me-too so far" and "similar to Amazon's and Google's
services though Apple's Photo Stream is more automatic in its uploading and
distribution of photos."
But other analysts saw
iCloud as exactly the sort of feature that'll help sell more Apple devices.
"In our view, these new
announcements further strengthen Apple's digital ecosystem by providing
consumers with increased functionality, enhanced ease of use, greater
efficiency and cool new features," Brian White, an analyst with Ticonderoga
Securities, wrote in a June 7 research note, "that we believe will drive
further adoption of Apple devices in the future."