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Apple: iCloud continues growing, now over 125M users

updated 06:35 pm EDT, Tue April 24, 2012

Mobile Me service nearing its end

Apple's high sales of iOS devices, along with continuing Mac growth, continues to push the free iCloud service to remarkable levels of membership, with CFO Peter Oppenheimer revealing during the March quarter analyst conference call that iCloud had reached 125 million users. The service appears to have added 25M users in the two months since CEO Tim Cook mentioned a 100M member figure during an analyst talk in February, and 40M members since the year began.

The figures and the dates of their announcement suggest a slow decline in the average number of new signups per week (down to about 3.5M per week from the 5M per week average between January and February), but has already reached almost half as many subscribers as even its main competitor GMail, which is estimated to have around 260M users, in about six months. The iCloud service, which was introduced in October of last year, offers free IMAP e-mail and a set of syncing and other services, including storage and the recent introduction of limited hosting (for Photo Journals made with iPhoto for iOS).

Cook has called iCloud "a strategy for the next decade" and echoed former CEO Steve Jobs in saying that it had become the central "hub" of the digital lifestyle, replacing much of the desktop computer's role in that paradigm. The syncing services, which are much improved over the previous Mobile Me service, have "solved a lot of problems people were having" and "made [customers'] lives easier."

Apple has not disclosed how many former Mobile Me members have made the switch to iCloud, but the company has recently stepped up efforts to remind users that some Mobile Me services, including the iDisk and Photo Gallery features, will be closing permanently at the end of June. It has also begun offering some MM members a free copy of OS X Snow Leopard to help them transition from Leopard (which is not compatible with iCloud) to Lion.

One of the biggest changes in the loss of Mobile Me will be the shutting down of free hosting for personal websites generated mostly by iWeb. Users have the option of simply changing the hosting of the site to some other service, and users of iPhoto's Galleries feature may find some substitute in either third-party photo sites like Flickr Pro and Picasa, or the new iCloud-hosted Photo Journals that are presently only a feature of iPhoto for iOS.

The iCloud service offers free IMAP e-mail (unusually for such a offer, the e-mail is free of any advertising); 5GB of storage space;, automatic backup of all iTunes Store purchases; automatic "push" syncing of calendar, contacts, bookmarks and selected other information; a photo-synching service called PhotoStream; device and friend locating services, iWork document sharing and other features for free. The optional iTunes Match service ($25 per year) also offers to back up the entire iTunes library (not just songs bought from iTunes) of music, and additional storage can be purchased as well if desired.

by MacNN Staff




  1. Steve Wilkinson

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Now please fix it!

    One would think with this kind of growth.... and that it is a 'hub' and such, that Apple would toss a few more resources into fixing it, especially sync (also, communicate with customers better when things are down, such as in the recent mail outage... and put a bit more priority on brining it back online!). It has been troublesome for over 4 years now, and seems to still have a number of issues in its iCloud implementation.

    First, if you can't make sync happen reliably, please just put a 'sync' button on the interface so we can force it to sync. The other day I was at an appointment and tried to schedule something, when I noticed that several (over a dozen) events I had entered on my OSX box a few days earlier were not on my iPad calendar. Luckily I was able to guess a good time for the appointment, but this kind of thing is unacceptable... it's core functionality if such an app is going to be relied on. (Note: my OSX box is on the Internet 100% of the time, and runs 24/7... my iPad is Internet connected most of the time, so there was plenty of opportunity over a few days for it to sync up... and it's supposed to happen almost instantly in my understanding.)

    This isn't the first time either. I've had similar things happen with Address Book. I don't use mail, so I can comment there, but I've heard plenty. Also, nearly every person I've talked to with a more complex setup (a couple Macs and a few iOS devices or more) has lost data or had major duplicate problems. One of my friends, the other day, saw a duplicate and deleted it. Unfortunately, then, the other entry disappeared as well, and this time, sync effectively deleted both from ALL his devices and computers. Poof, contact info gone.

    This almost makes one wonder if iCloud isn't about selling movies and music, and these other core aspects (calendar, addresses, e-mail) are being treated as low-priority extras. Certainly, IMO, Calendar on iPad and iOS is an incredibly sloppy implementation on the UI side alone, never mind the sync problems. Apple needs to get WAY more serious about these core apps and the sync behind them!

  1. chas_m



    After some initial confusion

    It has worked flawlessly for me ever since. I had some trouble till I turned OFF the syncing checkboxes in iTunes and just let iCloud handle it. I agree with you about a better system for notifying users when there are actual service outages, however.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    the next hammer

    in Apple's attempt to get people to switch to Lion. Hey, let Windows XP user's use the service, but OS X Snow Leopard? Nah, let's make it as hard as possible for those users!

    There's always talk of the "halo effect" of Apple getting more customers for OS X by using the greatness of their mobile devices. Problem is, they really aren't getting the existing customers to continue moving forward the way they want (stupid people, wanting to use their existing apps, or their existing workflows, and not just understanding the Apple way is always the best way, even if it costs you money to move forward).

    So Apple now is also using their mobile platform as their way of forcing users to upgrade to the latest versions of OS X. Soon, I'm sure, we'll see the demise of a PPC iTunes so Apple can try to get them to upgrade as well. "You want an iPad 3 - um, I'm sorry, a 'new iPad' - then upgrade to a new computer fool!".

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Has anyone noticed Apple is doing this all backwards with their online stuff? Usually you start off with a limited set of capabilities and then build onto it, making them better. Apple started off with a wide-set of capabilities, spent years trying to get them to work, and now is 'upgrading' them by taking stuff away.

    I think there's more than a few people who wished Apple started off MM with the above set of capabilities and got them to work correctly then spend the last four years dealing with stupid issues with calendars and contacts and mails randomly disappearing, duplicating, or just not working.

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