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Apple’s Jobs Unveils iCloud, Moving User’s ’Digital Life’ Online

Monday, 06 Jun 2011 03:21 PM

Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, aiming to capitalize on a shift away from personal computers, introduced iCloud, a service that stores consumers’ files online and keeps mobile devices synchronized wirelessly.

The iCloud will let users move their “digital life” from PC hard drives to cloud computing, which stores information on remote data centers, Jobs said today at Apple’s developers’ conference in San Francisco.

Apple is using iCloud to retain its dominance in the smartphone and tablet markets amid fresh competition from devices powered by Google Inc.’s Android software. The service helps improve how users can access content across different Apple devices, keeping customers from defecting to rivals, said Frank Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research Inc.

“The world we’re headed to is where you don’t have to think about which gadget has your stuff,” Gillett said. “As people get their content organized around one of these personal ecosystems, then it will be incredibly sticky because migrating won’t be convenient.”

Apple also is adding 250 new features to the Mac OS X Lion software, including more touch-control options and a service called AirDrop that shares files over Wi-Fi, executives said today at the show. The event marked Jobs’s second public appearance of 2011. Though he has been on medical leave since Jan. 17, Jobs remains involved in Apple’s decision making.

PC Gains

By bolstering the Mac OS, Apple aims to build on its gains in the PC market. Apple accounted for 8.5 percent of U.S. PC shipments in the first quarter, up from 7 percent a year earlier, according to IDC. The company’s iPad tablet also helped steal away PC customers, the research firm said. Apple has sold more than 25 million iPads since the device debuted last year, the company said today.

The new Lion operating system will be available for downloading in July for $29.99, Apple said.

The company also announced features for the new version of iOS, which runs the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch media player. The software makes it easier to read Web articles and save them for future reading.

A new Twitter Inc. partnership, meanwhile, will help users access the social-networking service and post photos.

The company said it now has more than 425,000 applications in its App Store, which provides software for iOS devices. The App Store competes with Google’s Android Market.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, fell $3.25 to $340.19 at 2:48 p.m. New York time on the Nasdaq Stock Market. The shares had climbed 6.5 percent this year before today.

The company’s earlier foray into Web-based services, MobileMe, got off to a slow start, dogged by breakdowns, including one that kept users from sending or receiving e-mails. MobileMe, with a $99 annual subscription fee, eventually gained 3 million users, according to Forrester. That’s a fraction of the potential customer base for iCloud.

“We learned a lot,” Jobs said today. MobileMe “wasn’t our finest hour.”

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Apple Inc. Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs, aiming to capitalize on a shift away from personal computers, introduced iCloud, a service that stores consumers files online and keeps mobile devices synchronized wirelessly.The iCloud will let users move their digital life ...

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