The Apple Land Grab: How The Free Cloud Will Help Grow A Nation

Prices so low, Apple must be INSANE! Or, more likely, they're hooking a whole new world of users with bargain basement prices on OS Lion and iCloud while planning to charge them later for add-ons and premium features.

Steve Jobs 2011 WWDC keynote speech

The most important thing Apple announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday had nothing to do with new software features or services. It had to do with prices.

Apple's new Lion operating system will sell for just $29.99. And for the iCloud? Precisely $0.

Apple is making a land grab. It is remaking the world of personal computing, and wants to lure as many users into this world as possible. The losses it takes today are simply an investment in future revenues from devices, software, and services it will sell to the Apple Nation.

The Mac operating system traditionally retails for $129. And iCloud, Apple’s new system that allows you to keep your documents, photos, and music synced across all your devices--phones, tablets, and PCs--would normally cost between $10 and $20 depending on the amount of storage space provided.

The more members of Apple Nation, the more sales it will make--of devices, from MacBook Airs, to iPads, to iPhones; of software; and of apps in the iTunes and Mac App Stores.

Importantly, pricing wasn’t the only aspect of Apple’s land grab. It also did a great job of crafting a highly desirable service. As we wrote about earlier today, iCloud makes it a snap to keep documents, email, photos, and music synced across all the devices you use today.

It’s a feature anyone who uses more than one device today wants. And by implementing its characteristic strategy of making the service as drop-dead simple as possible, Apple is lowering any and all barriers to adoption.

It also made sure it had a key piece of the content puzzle: Music. As anyone with more than a single device can attest to, keeping your songs synced across a PC and an MP3 player, and increasingly a phone and tablet as well, is the bane of many a user's existence.

Since pain equals opportunity, Apple made sure it tackled music as part of its inaugural iCloud offering. And not only has it reportedly forked over a $100 million to music publishers to get their OK to allow users to buy-once-and-use-everywhere, but the company went the extra mile to allow you to sync all your music, not just the tracks you bought from iTunes, but, for example, good-old-fashioned CDs you ripped to your computer as well.

Apple wants to remove any reason you might come up with not to join iCloud. It’s that intensity of focus and global thinking that shows how serious it is about getting you into Apple Nation.

As CEO Steve Jobs said during the conference keynote: “If you don’t think we’re serious about this, you’re wrong."<

E.B. Boyd is FastCompany.com's Silicon Valley reporter. Twitter. Email.

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1 Comments

  • Neal Jansons

    If he really wants people in the Apple Nation, he should allow us to run OSX on whatever machine we want. I am willing to pay the normal $129, I just don't want to have to buy their hardware.