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ATPM 17.10
October 2011




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by Mark Tennent,

iDisk Lament

A gold medal is the target Microsoft’s boss, Steve Ballmer, is avoiding as he aims at a lowly bronze instead. He reckons Microsoft has got what it takes to become a “very strong third ecosystem” in the world of smart phones, as he announced at his company’s recent Financial Analyst Meeting. It seems strange to hear him admit that Google and Apple have beaten Microsoft.

Beating Apple is something I’d love to do at the moment. Preferably around the head with a large and heavy stick. The new iCloud, Apple’s third attempt at online services, will not include their iDisk storage. This is the one facility I am happy to pay for at and the stupidly named MobileMe.

The iDisk is just about the easiest way to share large files. Access can be at desktop level with files dropped into a local mirror, or mounting the iDisk as an external hard drive, or by Web browser or WebDAV application. The latter is the quickest way to send and receive files. iDisk is also a good way to exchange files between Macs and computers running Unix or Windows, and more recently iPhones and iPads.

In full-colour illustrated publishing, where we can work with enormous amounts of data, an iDisk is almost de rigueur. Editors and authors, many of whom are not techo-savvy, use a variety of different computers, anything that will run Word. Giving them an easy way to send large files or to view PDF proofs is essential, and the iDisk does exactly that.

There are many alternatives, such as Dropbox, but they are often more expensive, and all have idiosyncratic ways to use them even if they have more facilities than an iDisk. Virgin Internet has even given me free and unlimited online storage space, but without the ease of use that comes with an iDisk.

All is not lost yet because Apple has not finalised the services iCloud will offer, and is open to ideas. Developers who have been given access to iCloud already have been doing exactly that, but there is no guarantee anything will change.

The other alternative is to run something in-house. This is fine if you have fast Internet, and luckily, we have. Our mini cloud runs via a Pogoplug connected to a cheap 2 TB drive. All for the cost of a couple of years’ subscription to Dropbox. But I’d still have an iDisk if one is available.

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Reader Comments (1)

Shivam · April 24, 2012 - 19:46 EST #1
Very solid wish list and I agree with all points expect price. Apple absolutely needs to offer a free version if it were to drive standardization across iOS ecosystem. If you use most of MobileMe features, perhaps you can justify $99/year subscription, but not everyone have the same needs. Apple does not need to offer a ton of space for the free tier (2 to 5 GB seems to be a good amount, but even 1 GB would be okay) and it can omit certain features (e.g., email, photo sharing).Also, Apple should add to do syncing already.

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