The clouds are gathering for Apple



It didn’t take long for Apple to follow Amazon’s launch of its Cloud Player with the announcement of its new iCloud service, which sparked more than normal interest thanks in part to Steve Jobs emerging briefly from his medical leave.

Given the emergence and popularity of connected devices such as iPads and smartphones, it makes sense to move one’s music library to the cloud, where it can be accessed from any device. As Jobs acknowledged at the press conference launching iCloud, “keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy”. But for service providers, the challenge is not just keeping devices in sync; it also lies in enabling their customers to consume the content of their choice, on the device of their choice.

To do so successfully, service providers need to overcome a raft of integration challenges, including authentication, quality of experience, subscriptions, customer support, device management, access technology, CND management to name but a few.

And on top of these challenges, service providers also need to be able to offer flexible pricing and billing models, micro-segmentation and targeting to match the increased content and choice available to consumers, as well as configure their business systems to allow flexible revenue share models for their content partners.

It comes as no surprise then to see service providers partner with other firms with expertise in some of these areas. Comcast, for example, has teamed up with Alcatel-Lucent to make it easier for Pay TV operators to deploy authenticated IP video services. As Gigaom reported, the partnership aims to take traditional linear TV services into the cloud and make them available to consumers everywhere and on any device.

The cloud is changing the way consumers access their content; service providers need to follow the prevailing wind and ensure that they can offer these services too.

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