Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Is Apple's iCloud a Google Apps Killer?

Image: Flickr Via Dakiny
 In a word, no. Here's why.

1. Collaboration
While it is nice to be able to edit iWork projects from any of iOS/OS X device, there is no collaborative editing feature. Six people on an assortment of iDevices can't work together.

2. Browser vs. Desktop
Apple continues to develop software that is dependent upon the hardware on which it runs. iLife and iWork will become increasingly more complex and require increasingly more powerful Apple hardware (desktops, laptops, and mobile devices) to run them. This in turn, will requires a significant financial investment.

Google has taken a different approach by placing its focus on the web browser. Web browsers are free and have much less demanding hardware requirements.

Both tactics have their benefits and drawbacks. One isn't superior over the other. Only time will tell which one, if any, will become dominant.

3. User base
Apple's iLife/iWork suite is awesome. I use them all the time. My house has become primarily Mac-centric, however I do also use a Dell Laptop. Most of my extended family is entirely PC as is my school. Microsoft decided that it would launch a Mac version of MS Office which has a considerable user base. I don't foresee Apple doing this....ever.

As a result, Apple will continue to have a relatively small share of the computing market. A very profitable share, but small nonetheless. In today's keynote Steve Jobs happily pointed out the tremendous market penetration of Apple Computers. While it is indeed impressive, Apple can still only claim somewhere between 5-10% of the total personal computer market. The remaining 90-95% is owned by Microsoft.

Getting back to Google...because the market continues to be dominated by Microsoft, it's easier for the majority of consumers to jump on board with Google (which doesn't cost a dime and doesn't require any hardware or software changes) than switch to Mac, as cool as iCloud, iWork, and iLife might be.

I continue to be amazed at the quality of the products that Apple produces. I am eager to give iCloud a try. I'm sure I'll love it. I don't believe, however, that this will have a significant impact on Google nor will I be replacing Google Apps with iCloud.


  1. and your mention of collaboration - so easily done on GDocs - reminds me that even if Apple gets to the point of developing collaboration, it will only be available to those who have apple devices. Gdocs allows sharing no matter what the device, no matter what the product... it works on Macs, PCs, Linux, tablets.... and in any browser.
    the same can not be said for apple products... they may be more elegant, but they are less democratically designed.

  2. The problem is, as it's always been between Google and Apple, a matter of sync. I live totally in the Google Cloud, use all Macs, have an Android phone, but would love to have an iPhone, give up my Google Apps and have all sync occur between my Macs iPhone, and iCloud.

    BUT...this just isn't going to happen...ever! If Google ever gets their (almost launched last week) native Gmail apps for the iPhone app into the App Store, there is a slim chance of all this coming together. If you have a way to use a Mac, Google Apps, an iPhone, and keep them all in sync (without using the horrible iPhone Gmail web interface) I'm all ears.

  3. Hi larrymcj, why can't you simply sync your Google Apps mail using the native mail app on an iPhone? I have multiple accounts synced to my phone. iMAP allows two way syncing between my device and the web.

    In my mind, the biggest weakness of Google Apps on mobile devices is Google Docs. The editing capabilities from an iphone/iPad are woefully inadequate.

  4. @Jrsowash: I would love to be able to do this, just as I would love to be able to do it with Mail.app on my Mac. BUT...if you delete a message on your iPhone (or in Mail.app on a Mac) the deleted messages are never moved to the Trash folder on Gmail. Instead, they show up in a "Deleted Message" folder that IMAP adds to Gmail. This is all documented many times online. One of the best sync articles is by Joe Kissell at http://tidbits.com/article/10253. Someone fix the synchronization of deleted messages and I'll buy an iPhone 4S (if I can find one without the yellow/green display problem)

  5. @all, why are you guys using IMAP with Google.
    I am connecting my iphone with the exchange client against google apps. Everything works as a exchange server including deleted items, calenders, contact. I have multiple exchange accounts connected to GoogleApps.
    server : m.google.com
    Domain :
    Useraccount : username@domain.com
    SSL : On

  6. @Wessel, Excellent point. MS Exchange is a much better way to connect your Google Account to an iOS device. Up until iOS 4, users could only sync one Exchange account, making life a little more complex.

    Thanks for reading and commenting.


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