John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Apple Reaching for the Cloud With MacBook Air and N.C. Data Center

Steve Jobs says the MacBook Air is the future of the MacBook and the future of the notebook as well. But if that’s to be the case, the machine–and Apple’s ecosystem–needs to evolve a bit more to appeal to that strata of user tethered to the high-capacity hard drives that the Air has summarily dispatched.

This being Apple we’re talking about, that evolution is likely already well under way and perhaps–perhaps–being engineered at the company’s massive new North Carolina data center. With its 500,000 square feet of data center space (currently, sources tell me that Apple is considering doubling that) the facility has been built for something. And what better use to put it to than the cloud services that might completely eliminate the need for high-capacity hard drives and give the Air storage to match its performance characteristics.

Were Apple to create the cloud-based version of iTunes that’s long been rumored–one from which users’ entire iTunes libraries could be streamed–and were it to bolster MobileMe’s iDisk and Gallery services with more-robust storage, even the 64GB Air might seem an attractive option to the high-end user. And Apple’s new N.C. data center, which is nearly five times the size of the one it operates in Newark, Calif., may well make both those things possible.

“We believe it makes sense to have a cloud service linking Apple devices to personal photos, videos, games, music and other entertainment–eliminating the limitations and expenses of excess storage,” writes Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes. “We believe such a service would only enhance the loyalty toward Apple and the benefits of using devices in its vertically integrated model.”

Saving to disk is slowly becoming a fixture of the past and, as Apple’s recently rejiggered Apple TV business model demonstrates, streaming is the future. Which makes perfect sense, when you think of the MacBook Air as the future of the notebook.