Apple's iCloud: A good deal?

Steve Jobs and Co. put a price tag on their upcoming cloud offering. Is iCloud worth the money... and the hype?

iCloud promotions at a San Francisco Apple Store: For most users of Steve Jobs' new cloud offering, the free 5GB plan may well be plenty.
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On Monday, Apple launched its iCloud website for developers, and, in the process, unveiled the pricing structure for its hotly anticipated cloud service. Apple will provide iOS 5 users with 5GB of storage for free. Music, apps, and books purchased on iTunes will not count toward that 5GB, nor will photos posted to the new "Photo Stream" feature. Those who require more space can upgrade and pay $20 a year for 10GB, $40 a year for 20GB, and $100 a year for 50GB. Is Apple's cloud offering a good deal?

Definitely. It offers plenty of storage space for nothing: "Don't worry about having to shell out more money to Apple," says Nick Bilton in The New York Times. Given that apps, books, and music purchased on iTunes won't count toward the free 5GB, only users with giant non-iTunes media collections will need to fork over the cash for more storage space. The rest of us should be just fine with the free 5GB.

"Apple reveals iCloud details and pricing"

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And it measures up well against other cloud offerings: If you're looking for 50GB of store, "Apple is on par with Dropbox," and it offers more storage — 5GB versus 2GB — for free, says Christian Zibreg at 9 to 5 Mac. Sure, Dropbox has the advantage of working on Windows and Linux, not just Mac OS X, but for Mac users, the iCloud also offers the ability to seamlessly sync contacts, emails, documents, and photos across all mobile devices, along with access to a variety of apps and special features like "Find my iPhone." Not too shabby.

"Price comparison: iCloud vs. Dropbox vs. SugarSync"

But a price war could be looming: "The launch of signals the battle for cloud-based storage supremacy is about to heat up," says Joe Arico at Mobiledia. The iCloud will compete with Amazon's Cloud Drive, which launched in the spring, and Google Music, which is currently in beta form. It looks as though Apple's pricing is better than Amazon's, but Amazon has the advantage of having been first out the door. As we all move our digital lives to the cloud, expect these competitors to work hard to woo users to their respective services. This fight is just getting started.

"Apple's iCloud appears, offers preview of features"

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