Is cloud computing for the birds?

According to this article, Apple is aiming at converting computer users to using Apple’s servers to store their files instead of their own computer’s hard drive.

It would certainly simplify mobile computing and eliminate problems with syncing between hardware platforms so you can see why Steve Jobs likes the idea.  It might even be OK for users who only ever work with relatively small files.  But what about those who frequently create and edit video or audio files (or large files of any sort)?  You’d be consuming ISP monthly bandwidth allowances every single time you saved or opened a file.  Hefty excess use charges or “shaping” down to dialup speeds would be monthly occurrences for many.   No doubt Jobs will warn potential customers about this major risk, and help them to pay those huge ISP bills. Won’t he?

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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john
john
10 years ago

Some of Apples Ideas also have legal implications
This is From New York Law schools James Grimmelmann

john
john
10 years ago

Sorry Link is

john
john
10 years ago
Dave
Dave
10 years ago

Ken,

AIUI, ISPs in the US to not apply download limits, so there is no direct cost to the user of storing all their files in the “cloud” and racking up huge monthly downloads amounts.

Apple’s vision seems to be predicated on this inefficient and unsustainable ISP pricing model.

Cris Bennett
Cris Bennett
10 years ago

You (maybe via the article, which I haven’t read) have the wrong end of this particular stick. iCloud isn’t going to replace local file storage. It will be an addition, enabling syncing between devices as well as offering web-based access. Furthermore, users will be offered a choice about whether or not to store any particular file remotely.

Opening files already on a device won’t require a download. Saving new changes to files in iCloud will indeed consume bandwidth, but it’ll be done smartly, as only changed portions are transmitted.

This only really represents Apple catching up with what’s already going on (witness the huge success of ‘cloud’ type sevices like Dropbox and Evernote). There’s nothing for Jobs/Apple to ‘warn’ people about here. Certainly no ‘major risk’ of unknowingly gaining large excess data fees.

john
john
10 years ago

….., I’m really happy for you, Imma let you finish, but think for a moment about the privacy implications of asking Apple to scan your entire music library and report back on it to the Apple mothership. Right now, Genius scans your collection and reports back, but all that information is “stored anonymously.” Anonymity doesn’t work if the point is to push out actual music files to all of your devices. Similarly, this goes beyond other cloud services in that you’re not uploading specific chosen files; iTunes Match is designed to scan your entire music collection, no matter how gigantic.

Of course, with good data collection practices and a good privacy policy, this isn’t too worrisome. But to put a point on why one might fret, imagine a copyright owner — a small music label, say — looking to engage in shotgun subpoena litigation. One source of file-shared music is the DRM-free downloads offered by Apple and Amazon. Some of those tracks, though, contain identifying watermarks. Apple could look for those watermarks, and alert the copyright owner whenever it found one that was obviously the result of file-sharing — for example, if more than ten different users had the same track with the same watermark.

Would Apple do that? Probably not voluntarily. It would be disastrous for Apple’s image, and would probably kill iTunes Match in the marketplace. But I can imagine the lawsuit a copyright owner might put together to force Apple to rat out its users. Apple’s defense, presumably, would be that it is not itself liable as a copyright infringer, and that as the non-party target of a subpoena, requiring it to add a complicated and privacy-intrusive feature to iTunes Match would be the very definition of “unduly burdensome.” But still, the possibility of such a suit is not so obviously absurd that I am prepared to dismiss it out of hand. I’m going to be reading the iCloud privacy policy very closely.

So there you have it: a complete final exam for a digital copyright course. Thank you, Steve, for keeping my professional life interesting.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
10 years ago

Those who frequently create large files in their line of work already know that remote editing is a crawl-tastic nightmare reserved for emergencies.

Editing text in a terminal is about as far as I am prepared to bow in that particular direction.

Cris Bennett
Cris Bennett
10 years ago

@Jacques: iCloud is a sync service (think Dropbox). Files will be opened locally.

aidan
aidan
10 years ago

@Dave said

ISPs in the US to not apply download limits

This is apidly becoming a thing of the past.

You can make a number of arguments about why this might be — coz they can is a nice simple one. Certainly the cable companies that are also the ISPs are seeing that more and more of their revenue will disappear as people unsubscribe from traditional cable TV access and use IPTV services like Hulu and Netflix. They want a means to ‘encourage’ users to use their IPTV services. They’re trying to stuff around with net neutrality to do accomplish this as well, but their backstop is to offer “quota-free” downloads from the IPTV services they provide.

Australian consumers looked across the pacific, saw download-cap free cable broadband and said “We want THAT”. American ISPs looked back at us, saw low-cap expensive ISP plans and said “We want to charge THAT”.