Will Apple’s iCloud Beat Google Cloud?

Apple’s iCloud might beat Google’s cloud because, if Apple’s data centres go dark, the apps still reside on devices, says Clint Boulton

One of the hot topics for analysis in the wake of Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference last week was how iCloud compares to Google’s cloud computing approach.

As folks noted, Apple’s cloud is a big backup and sync hub for the software that enables music and applications that live on Apple’s dedicated devices, from Macs to iPhones, iPads and iPods. Some even noted that Apple’s iCloud is what Microsoft intended for Live Mesh.

Is iCloud really true cloud?

Google’s cloud computing vision is one of applications and software hosted on the search engine’s servers and provisioned in the browser.

The apps do not reside on the devices where they are used, such as the Chrome notebooks from Samsung and Acer that are coming out on Wednesday. These notebooks were created with only 16GB of storage because they are intended to serve as shells for web-based apps and Google’s cloud.

When I first heard about Apple’s instantiation of iCloud, I thought it wasn’t the true cloud the way Google defined it because software resides on devices and uses servers in Apple’s North Carolina data centre as a crutch.

Google might argue that’s not the true cloud, and be critical of any approaches that deviate from its own browser-based approach.

I say “might argue” because I don’t know for sure. Google declined to comment on the record to me about what it thinks about iCloud. However, given Google’s past history, it’s likely critical of the service.

Superior to Google’s approach?

Of course, iCloud hasn’t launched, so it could be as disastrous as MobileMe, providing a rare black eye for Apple and Steve Jobs.

However, if it works as advertised, iCloud could be superior to Google’s approach. With Google’s approach, the cloud is the first wave and the backup. If Google’s servers go down, you can’t access your Gmail or Google Docs.

With iCloud, the cloud is simply the backup. If it goes down, users can still access their apps on their host devices. If iCloud truly works as billed, the apps will contain the most up to date info, thanks to the continuous synching of Apple’s cloud infrastructure.

So which is better? If nothing goes wrong, the approaches exist on equal footing. If Google’s cloud puffs away, iCloud is clearly superior.

Which means the edge goes to Apple. It will be interesting to see if Google responds by, say, hosting apps locally on Chromebooks with more storage in the future.