What's thrown off some analyses is iCloud Drive's support for Windows. But rather than view that as a step toward cross-platform, it should be seen as a concession to Windows dominance in the enterprise, a market Apple has explicitly targeted.
"The only difference in [the iCloud Drive strategy] is that in the business market Apple is a bit more of a realist," said Dawson in an interview. "In the business environment, the vast majority of customers have Windows devices. To collaborate on documents within the enterprise, iCloud Drive had to support Windows."
During the WWDC keynote, Craig Federighi, the Apple executive who dominated stage time, talked about the iPhone, Apple and the enterprise, touching on new iOS 8 features for business rather than taking the company's usual tack of limiting itself to rattling off statistics about Fortune 500 penetration. That was a signal, Dawson said, just as was iCloud Drive's Windows support, of an Apple push to take the iPhone and iPad to the next level in business.
Calling the iPhone Apple's "spearhead" into the enterprise, Dawson argued that while Apple has been slowly adding business-centric features to iOS, it saw the need to do more. "[iCloud Drive] is not the same as if they launched a native version of iWork for Windows," which he said Apple would not do, "and it's not something that they'll advertise. But what they're doing is with the enterprise in mind."
The significant price reductions in additional iCloud storage, which Apple announced last week but may not implement until this fall, are also part of the same umbrella strategy: Make Apple devices more appealing. Those prices are neither the lowest nor the highest of rival services.
Not surprisingly, it's not Apple's intent to compete with the lowest-priced alternatives. It will not cut customers a deal and bundle larger free allowances with its devices, much less give unlimited storage away for free, as some have suggested.
Nor will it expect iCloud Drive to create a major new revenue stream. "I don't think it's about making money at all," said Dawson. Instead, Apple will charge for iCloud Drive beyond the 5GB free allotment to create what he called a "mental commitment" to the service. "It's more a psychological effect. Think of Amazon Prime. Because I'm already paying for it, I may as well buy from Amazon because I get free shipping. So I commit to it emotionally."
The changes to iCloud seem aimed at advanced users, those who are typically the most vocal, online and off, but who do not necessarily reflect the thoughts of a majority of Apple's customers. "iCloud has really felt more for the casual rather than power user, and Apple has been beaten up because of that. It's always seemed sort of a 'lite' version of what it should be," Dawson observed.
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