By Marcus Leach
Apple's annual developers' conference on Monday, held in San Francisco, was the scene for the much anticipated unveiling of iCloud services.
Apple chief Steve Jobs, who had been away on medical leave, returned to show off Apple's web-based services, claiming that iCloud was necessary given the PC was no longer the digital hub of users' digital lives.
As with other cloud services iCloud will aim to synchronise and co-ordinate key content that people store and share across their devices.
Apple's current 'MobileMe' service will be phased out as contacts, calendar and mail applications have all been re-written to ensure a change on one is reproduced across all applications.
This replication across devices goes for apps, books and music brought, as well as all bookmarks for browser pages being shared across all devices.
Mr Jobs stressed that, despite certain misconceptions of cloud services, iCloud was "not just a hard disk in the sky".
"We are demoting the PC and Mac to just be a device," he said. "And moving the digital hub centre of your digital life to the cloud."
Jobs went on to explain one of the key changes iCloud will instigate is with the iTunes store, which will now have an iCloud element meaning music purchased on one device it will be duplicated across all of the users' devices.
Apple's iTunes Cloud will take on Google and Amazon, who already have web-based music storage services. However, neither have record labels on board, or the unique ability to replicate an exisiting library of music, as iTunes Cloud can.
"This is the first set of cards on the table for the long game which is increasingly moving access to all your media up into the cloud, " said Mike McGuire, senior analyst with research firm Gartner.
"We are seeing people putting pieces in place for the time when more and more consumers have those assets, not just in their immediate vicinity, but up in the cloud," he said. "Those kinds of transitions for consumers take a long time. They don't happen overnight."
At present all iCloud services have only been priced for America, with UK prices yet to be given.
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