Apple has all the ingredients to make a success of iCloud. From a deal-making point of view, it can influence its customers to go adopt this new product in a number of ways:
1 – “Authority” – The Apple brand has a great deal of authority with consumers given their recent string of successes with the iPod, iPhone, iPad products. Having authority is often a good way of building influence.
2 – “Popularity” – Apple have millions of consumers all over the world. We are all influenced by this kind of “social proof” as to what we should be doing.
3 – “Commitment” – All of those existing customers have already made a commitment to apple. One of the key rules of influence states that once we have made one commitment (eg buying an iPod and using iTunes) it’s much easier to get us to make a further commitment (e.g. by subscribing to iCloud).
Despite the inevitable marketing power these factors create, the eventual success of iCloud will be dependent on a number of other factors such as the quality of the service itself and how much value customers see in it.
My view is that the convenience and popularity of this service (and other similar products that may well surface) will expand as wi-fi access becomes more and more readily available in public areas. Once consumers can stream music from their entire iTunes catalogue from a seat on the London Underground, for example, then Apple really will have a winning model on their hands.
However, the advantages of this over a streaming service such as Spotify are perhaps yet to be fully understood. Indeed, the iCloud service could be seen as inferior in some ways due to the fact that users will only have access to songs they have already downloaded or purchased access to, whereas Spotify subscribers can have access to any song that has been granted streaming rights. Perhaps this is why Apple are keen for a quick launch of the iCloud service, especially in the US, where Spotify is yet to secure deals with the major music labels.
The main difference of course is the ‘ownership’ factor, and some people will place more value on having their own personal ‘locker space’ than others. Although, of course, there’s nothing stopping consumers having the ‘best of both worlds’ by subscribing to both kinds of service.
Perhaps Apple’s race is really being run against similar ‘scan and match’ locker music services such as Google Music and Amazon Cloud Drive. In this battle, Apple’s superior bargaining power (through popularity, authority and commitment) gives it a built-in advantage over these other services, as it is a more highly trusted music brand, with a much higher installed base of music users.