By Chand Bellur
May 11, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. PT
- Cloud computing’s rapid expansion has generated a fifteen-fold growth in revenues in the past decade.
- Apple has recently been expanding cloud-based services and web apps.
- Apple’s vision seems to expand the cloud, moving more functionality to servers.
What is the Cloud?
The Cloud refers to cloud-based computing. In its purest sense, cloud-computing is a mature concept. A cloud-based architecture is a client/server design, employed for decades in enterprise computing. If you’ve ever used a web app or completed a web form, that’s cloud computing. The web or application server resides on the Internet and processes requests for the web browser client.
Cloud computing evolved from one of the oldest forms of technology, harking back to the mainframe days. Users would sit at dummy terminals, which are thin clients. A mainframe computer handled requests and processing for the dummy terminals.
The Internet brought us the true cloud-based computing that we know today, although only network engineers referred to it as the cloud. Network diagrams typically depicted the Internet as a cloud. Several years later, marketers got wind of this terminology, converting it into the next big thing. The truth is, you’ve been using cloud computing for a long time!
If you’ve ever used eBay, Netflix, YouTube, or even ancient web portals like AOL, you were using the cloud. You’re using the cloud as you read this news article. The best way to turn something old into something new is to rename it. Client/server computing is too technical. Clouds are more familiar. So cloud computing it is!
Apple Expands on Cloud Computing Efforts
Cloud computing is nothing new to Apple. Although iTunes was a thick client, it enabled customers to purchase songs or albums from the cloud. Apple Music has taken this a step further, by enabling users to stream music directly from the cloud, instead of downloading it to the client device.
Late 2018 and early 2019 were difficult times for Apple. As iPhone revenues started to decline, investors grew wary of the Cupertino tech giant. The concern was that Apple put all of their eggs in one basket. At its height, the iPhone brought in two-thirds of Apple’s revenues; however, market saturation resulted in diminishing smartphone sales.
Services were the answer to Apple’s revenue woes, and the tech giant pursued this strategy relentlessly. Apple’s ability to execute allowed them to grow service revenues rapidly. New services such as Apple Arcade, Apple News+, and Apple TV+ joined existing services like Apple Music. Service revenues increased enormously and now account for almost two-thirds of Apple’s revenues. It’s simply amazing how they turned things around so quickly.
Future Apple Cloud Services?
Key hires in the cloud computing industry indicate Apple’s will to expand on services. They managed to poach Google cloud computing expert John Giannandrea, among other talent in the industry.
Speculation abounds as to what Apple will think of next. Many pontificators, including myself, believe that Apple will significantly expand on cloud-based image processing.
The camera is one of the most popular features on the iPhone, as social media participants require high-quality photographs. Although Apple already has Photos in the cloud, the app/service leaves much room for improvement. At best, users have rudimentary control over image editing, with differing functionality on each client. Expanding and unifying photos would greatly appeal to customers.
Apple Arcade will likewise enjoy monumental expansion. Rumors suggest Apple will soon release an Apple TV based on the A12 Bionic chip. Such processing power would rival most dedicated gaming consoles. The move would sell both Apple Arcade subscriptions in addition to Apple TV units.
Whatever Apple decides to do, their cloud will get much smarter. Tech pundits believe that AirPods will become more powerful, with the ability to control tasks such as image processing by voice. This vision may seem fanciful; however, it’s entirely possible and relatively likely. Whatever the future of Apple services may be, rest assured it will be both fantastic and lucrative.