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Apple's iCloud Still Playing Catchup to Google

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The pain of MobileMe runs long and deep.

Yesterday, Apple opened up the web interface to its long-awaited MobileMe followup, iCloud, for developers. Still in beta, iCloud will store and sync Mail, Calendar, and Contacts and even feature a built-in "Find My iPhone" app. In typical Cupertino fashion, the site is beautifully polished with bright, shiny graphics and a straight-forward UI. In addition to the web interface, Apple revealed its pricing structure once it's open to non-developers.

Too bad the cost is significantly higher than Google's offerings. In a testament to the "Apple Tax," iCloud storage fees are curiously high given Apple's chief competition.

Out of the gate, users are granted 5GB free for their accounts. The site notes, "5GB of free storage is plenty for most people. But if you need extra space, you can always buy additional storage." Users can upgrade to 10GB -- in addition to the original 5GB -- for $20 per year. 20GB costs $40/year, and 50GB costs $100/year.

Yes, that's slightly cheaper than Dropbox's pricing plans -- 50GB costs $9.99/month there -- but what about Google's time-tested app suite? How does that compare?

Well, in addition to the roughly 7.5GB initially granted to Gmail users -- Google Docs and Picasa also come with roughly 1GB apiece -- extra storage pricing is as follows:
  • 20 GB ($5.00 USD per year)
  • 80 GB ($20.00 USD per year)
  • 200 GB ($50.00 USD per year)
  • 400 GB ($100.00 USD per year)
  • 1 TB ($256.00 USD per year)
So, for the same $100 per year, Google users are given eight times as much storage as an iCloud user.

And with all due respect to Apple, Google is still leagues ahead in terms of cloud storage, synced info, and online app capability. Remember when Steve Jobs announced synced email and contacts as iCloud features at this year's WWDC? That's such a forgotten aspect of Android, it's barely regarded.

Google's app suite is feature heavy and each service continues to grow as powerful pieces of cloud-based software. Gmail, Google Docs, Google Calendar, Google Music, Picasa, and now Google+ represent an integrated and unified fleet of services for every Google user. And they're free.

Compare that to functionally limited iCloud apps. Yes, they work fine, but they don't do nearly as much as Google's offerings.

The merits of the "iPhone vs. Android" debate notwithstanding, iCloud has a long way to go to be able to be on par with Google Apps.

(See also: Apple's New iPhone Coming Later Than Expected and "iPad Head Girl" Ensures You'll Never, Ever Read This Magazine)

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