iCloud is a big step in making the Mac work more like how people expect. Whenever people have bought a computer in the past, I doubt they’ve ever paid any attention to how they’ve opened and saved documents, and until a few months ago, nobody ever had to think about how data on one computer was supposed to sync with others. But for heavy PC users it’s been an adjustment. While eventually it will just be assumed that data is ubiquitous, for now iCloud is an important symbol in helping regular consumers know that not only is their data in the cloud, but that their desktop works like their mobile devices.
Five years ago when buying desktops and laptops was still a big thing, the decision of to get a Mac or a PC had to do with things like security and software. Today, those differences are less relevant, instead it’s mobile and the mobile way of computing that is important.
We’re seeing the selling strategy moving to selling mobile first and PCs second. That is of course, if the devices themselves are being sold or if devices a just way of buying into the ecosystem.
Take selling a Mac for example. Mountain Lion is different than the OS X from just a few years ago, and its very different from the Windows of today. Getting someone up to date on how data works across devices is a mouthful:
You want to buy a Mac? Then you’ll also want to use an iPhone, an iPad, and maybe even get an Apple TV too so you can consume your media on your television. Your purchases will be synced across your devices, and any apps you buy can be downloaded on all of your computers. You’ll be using iCloud to store your documents and you’ll no longer use the regular file system. With iCloud all of your documents will auto save, and update across your devices and computers in real-time.
That’s a lot to consider. Thankfully it’s rare anybody will have to to have it explained to them because we have the reference points of iOS with the iPhone and the iPad.
On iOS, having documents auto-saved and on iCloud is natural. When people use iOS devices they don’t need to think about data. Users are very comfortable performing a wide range of activities on their iOS devices, and that means they understand it when they see the same patterns on their desktop.
We can this in practice when we look at Mountain Lion. The way people work with documents, launch applications, buy and update software works just like it does on their iPhones and iPads.
What’s amazing to me is that iOS has only been around for five years, but thanks to the “magic” of the iPhone and the iPad, it’s been adopted so quickly by people of all ages that it’s the perfect mental model to use for a PC.
When Apple makes the desktop more like iOS, it doesn’t need to explain the changes or teach its users. All they have to say is “It works just like your iPhone.”