Forecast

iCloud's 150 million projected users: 3 predictions

Analysts expect most iPhone owners to move their digital lives to Apple's iCloud — making Steve Jobs' company even more of a tech powerhouse

A new report from RBC Capital Markets projects that as many as 150 million iPhone users could sign on to Apple's new iCloud service. What would such an enormous iCloud user base mean? Here, three theories:

1. It could save the music industry
"Apple's cloud service could unearth a huge new source of revenue for the industry," says Austin Carr at Fast Company. Not only did the survey find that 76 percent of iPhone users (a projected 150 million) plan to use the free iCloud service, but some 30 percent of iPhone users said they would be willing to pay the $25 annual fee to use the iCloud's iTunes Match Service, which allows users to store all their music online. That could yield some $750 million in revenue per year, and Apple has agreed to give 70 percent of any iCloud music revenue to the record labels.

2. And really hurt Google and Amazon
If iCloud wins 150 million users, "it could spell disaster for competitors like Amazon's Cloud Player and Google Music," says Matthew Calamia at Mobiledia. Those services lack the "features and functionality" of the iCloud. Most notably, they force users to upload their music libraries manually — a long, painstaking process. Apple might even use its iCloud popularity to compete with Google's Gmail and related Google apps. "Google and Amazon must scramble to get their respective services up to par with Apple's if they wish to succeed in the cloud."

3. This would create even more Apple in-grouping
"What this survey can't show or calculate is how our social patterns will change with the public release of the iCloud," says Radu Tyrsina at GigJets. Just as BlackBerry's BBM instant-messaging feature bound BlackBerry users together, the iCloud's iMessage service will further group Apple users together (as if they weren't already tight enough). The world may be divided between those who have their heads in the iCloud and those who don't, so "just make sure everyone you communicate and know will be an Apple user."

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