Apple’s iCloud service has been taking off in terms of active users – there’s now over 300 million of them – but the space that Apple’s cloud service offers pales in comparison to the space cloud services offered by Google and others provide. While iCloud’s storage plans are fairly reasonably priced, backups from multiple iOS devices owned by a user can quickly chew through the free 5GB provided – and even the additional 10GB for $20 a year. 15GB for $20 a year may sound like plenty but with ever increasing camera quality on the iPhone, potential increases in physical storage on your iDevice, and more graphics-intensive apps hitting the App Store, many users may see their free storage used up pretty quickly.
As a comparison, Google’s cloud service offers 15GB of storage free (shared across all services – like Gmail, Drive, etc.) and 100GB for just $4.99 a month ($59.88 a year). You can even get up to 16TB of storage from Google, for $799 per month. Wow! Amazon offers 5GB of storage free through their Cloud Drive, and an additional 15GB for $10 a year – half the price of iCloud – up to 200GB for $100 a year. Dropbox gives a paltry 2GB for free, and will bump that up to 100GB for $9.99 per month (or $100 a year). iCloud caps out at 55GB for $100 a year.
It’s been a while since Apple has changed up physical storage space on the iPhone and iPad. We first saw the availability of 16, 32, and 64GB models with the release of the iPhone 4S. It’s been the same for the last two models. Could Apple increase the storage space in the iPhone 5S? It wouldn’t be unheard of for an ‘S’ release to give us a storage bump. If Apple does increase iPhone storage space soon, it would make iCloud’s storage limits seem even tighter.
To be fair, none of the services besides iCloud offer device backups – which is a huge staple of iCloud. Since the introduction of iCloud device backups, I haven’t synced my iPhone or iPad to my computer at all. It appears that Apple’s premium pricing for iCloud is supported by the range of features that iCloud offers over these other services. Being able to create and save files on your Mac and see them pop up in an app on your iPhone is great. There’s no software to install or syncing to set up. It couldn’t be simpler.
Apple is working hard to expand iCloud storage. They opened their first new datacenter in North Carolina in 2012, and are already in the process of expanding it. A new datacenter in Reno, Nevada, is also under development – along with another in Prineville, Oregon. These massive datacenters will greatly expand the storage capability of Apple’s already strong iCloud service.
It would not be surprising to see a boost in iCloud storage as we see storage space in future iOS devices increase. More surprising would be to see iPhone and iPad physical storage go up without an accompanying boost to iCloud as well. Will we see these increases with the release of the iPhone 5S this fall? We’ll just have to wait and see.