If “vapor” wasn’t already a computer industry term of art, it would a good word for what’s happened to “the cloud” — a buzzword stretched so thin it’s all but lost its meaning.
Case in point: The 10-page special section in Thursday’s New York Times on cloud computing that reads suspiciously like something ordered up with no other purpose than to carry three full-page ads. Nearly every time “the cloud” is invoked in Quentin Hardy’s lead story, he could as easily have substituted the Web, the Internet or — perhaps more accurately — a bunch of servers attached to a network.
Three years ago, Apple (AAPL) was making a fuss about what it called (and trademarked) iCloud. Steve Jobs himself introduced the concept in 2011, at what was to be his last keynote.
At last week’s WWDC keynote, it was barely mentioned. Yet as Quartz’ Dan Frommer noted in The “Apple doesn’t get the cloud” era is officially over, the event was packed with cloud-centric announcements: A Dropbox-like iCloud Storage folder, a nearly infinite Photo Stream library, a text messaging service that finally syncs properly, iTunes accounts whole families can share, the ability to start a phone call on an iPhone and finish it on a MacBook, etc. etc.
“None of this says ‘CLOUD™,” Benedict Evans wrote last week. “And none of it is done in a web browser.”
Evans believes the omission is purposeful — and that it says a lot about Apple and its biggest frenemy: Google (GOOG).
That about sums it up.