08 June 2011

Implications of Apple's WWDC announcements: iCloud, iOS 5 and Lion OSX

Apple hosted its 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) on June 6, 2011, which focused on its new iCloud offering, iOS 5, and Mac OS X. Here is a brief summary and analysis on the various announcements.

The Numbers

Over 200 million iOS devices sold, 44% market share among mobile operating systems
25 million iPads sold in 14 months (up from 15 million in Dec, 2010)
54 million active Mac users worldwide, Laptops outsell desktops (accounting for 73% of Apple PC sales)
425,000 apps on the App Store; 90,000 iPad apps
14 billion apps downloaded by Apple customers (up from 10 billion in Jan 2011)
$2.5 billion paid out to app store developers
130 million books downloaded for the iBookstore
225 million iTunes accounts with credit cards


With iCloud, Apple aims to become the center of consumer’s digital life in the Post-PC world. It would help all Apple devices to automatically synchronize calendar items, contacts, mail, iTunes songs, photos, apps and other files with each other. With the cloud as the center of the digital hub, Apple has pushed the PC to become just a device like the iPhone or the iPad.

  • iCloud services would act as a huge differentiator for Apple, thereby attracting many new users to the platform. It would also greatly increase the stickiness of existing users, particularly those who own multiple Apple devices.
  • Decreased dependency on the PC for content would drive uptake of new devices like media tablets, further impacting the PC industry
  • Apple’s cloud offerings require a tightly integrated platform, which few companies will be able to fully replicate. Google and Microsoft, who have made early inroads for similar cloud integration, will accelerate plans to counter Apple’s move.
  • Apple’s iTunes in the cloud offering is much stronger than the recently launched cloud hosted music platforms by Amazon and Google. It does not require uploading of current content while being priced aggressively. The much anticipated content streaming is not a part of the offering yet though.

iOS 5

iOS 5 is the most extensive refresh of Apple’s mobile platform since its launch. With its new version, Apple has addressed the most requested feature requests and pain-points of iOS. Key features like wireless sync, iMessage and Twitter integration would help iOS maintain its leadership in mobile. Overhauled notifications, cameras updates, tabbed browsing and split keyboard are welcome additions.

  • iMessage: Apple's new messaging offering further adds to Apple’s ecosystem theory. Taking a leaf out of RIM's BBM, this new app is free, works over WiFi/3G and can send messages, documents, photos, contact. It also supports push notifications and group messaging.
  • Wireless Sync: This completes the missing pieces of Apple's vision of the Post PC era. PC is no longer required to activate iOS devices. Also iOS software updates would be over the air. This substantially enhances the value of the platform and makes it easier for users to purchase and manage multiple iOS products.
  • Twitter integration: This feature makes it easier to tweet from any iOS based device with support for single sign on. After signing in once, the user can tweet from potentially any app, including Camera, Photos and Safari. Facebook, world’s largest social network is a notable omission here.

Mac (OSX Lion)

With features like Launchpad, gestures, Mac app store etc., Apple wants to push similar user experiences across its devices. The idea being that if a user owns an iOS device (~200 million installed base), he should have no problems in migrating from a PC to the Mac.
While giving away the upgrade for a low price point of $29.99, Apple would be looking to generate momentum in its newly launched Mac app store to drive further revenues.

The other stand out thing is Apple's announcement to distribute the new OS solely via its new Mac app store, further indicating their move away from boxed software distribution.


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