By Harry McCracken | Tuesday, August 2, 2011 at 9:24 am
Apple has announced pricing for its upcoming iCloud service. In typical Apple fashion, the company kept things simple. 5GB of online storage is free; 10GB is $20 a year; 20GB is $40 a year; 50GB is $100 a year. (Most other cloud-storage companies price by the month rather than the year, which makes it tougher to judge what you’re really going to shell out–if you find one of these services useful, you’re going to use it indefinitely, not one month at a time.)
So is Apple’s pricing a deal? Comparing prices for these services is tough. Different ones offer different capacity points. Some have lots of features (SugarSync and Box.net, for instance) and some are far more bare-bones (Amazon Cloud Drive and Microsoft Cloud Drive). Some have their own twists (YouSendIt, for instance, has a built-in digital-signature feature) and some (Amazon Cloud Drive and iCloud) don’t include purchased music in the capacity limits. And anyhow, iCloud isn’t an exact counterpart to any existing service. It’s going to be way more Apple-centric–betcha there won’t be Android clients–and is less about syncing and more about leaving your files in the cloud, period.
With those caveats in mind, here’s a quick price comparison. Since iCloud is priced by the year, I’ve listed all prices in annualized form even though most of these services are priced by the month. Note that I’m focusing on consumer-oriented plans here–some of these services have corporate-focused ones, too. And I’m not taking other factors, such as maximum file sizes, into consideration. Oh, and “Cloud Drive” below is Amazon’s Cloud Drive service.
Assuming that iCloud does what you need, its pricing looks reasonable at every price point. Amazon’s Cloud Drive is half the price–$20 for 20GB instead of Apple’s $40–but at this point, it’s a way less ambitious service.
It’s also interesting to note that Apple kept the capacities it’s offering relatively small: the 50GB account costs the same $100 you used to pay for a year of MobileMe.
Of course, all these services are pricey compared to local storage: the $100 annual cost for 50GB of iCloud would buy you 20X as much USB mobile hard-drive storage (1TB) every year. I look forward to the day when there are a bunch of services that offer multiple terabytes of online storage for very little money. That’s when this whole idea of keeping all your stuff in the cloud will become irresistible.
UPDATE: Over on Twitter, Justin Reid reminded me that Apple’s storage capacities are in addition to the free 5GB. So the totals look like this: