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Users will finally be able to get more iCloud+ storage, but the cost is too high for anyone except professionals like filmmakers — who has better options.
Apple may have only wedged its way into its new iCloud+ tiers 80 minutes into the iPhone 15's release because there was nowhere else to fit. Plus there wasn't much to say about it either, but the position in the event says one thing, and the location of its price says another.
This announcement came right after the iPhone 15 Pro description, which included numerous references to how filmmakers shoot and manage large files. This was due precisely to how fast the new USB-C interface works – data transfer — at least on Pro models — and how video is recorded to external drives.
So it was a great transition from users needing space to Apple providing more of it. However, what followed seemed to impact the needs of consumers and professionals, but ultimately did not help either.
Filmmakers will not back up footage to iCloud
Space can be an issue for everyone, but it's certainly always the case for professional users and especially filmmakers. This is an extreme example, but editor Eddie Hamilton edited Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One primarily on a MacBook Pro, with the footage stored on a 160TB portable drive.
Apple's 12TB iCloud+ tier won't cut it for someone working on a movie that's been shot over several years.
Besides, no director will trust their footage to iCloud+, or at least never to iCloud+ alone. Apple's iCloud is designed for synchronization between devices — and in fact, it is not possible to back up a Mac on it at all.
You can sync files, passwords, and even desktop content on your Mac. And you can be sure that your photos and videos are now on all your devices. Also, if you delete something, you have 30 days to recover it through the icloud.com data recovery section.
But if something goes wrong with this footage, if it is damaged in any way, then all copies on all devices will be the same. Mess up your local file and Apple will painstakingly copy the same mess into every copy of it.
Filmmakers don't even can share footage effectively using iCloud
If it can't be used as a backup, then the new iCloud+ tiers should at least be capable of sharing footage. The levels should mean that it is possible to send footage from the set to where it is needed – — for editing, for viewing, for people paying the budget to see what they get.
Video materials are constantly transferred between people, and it is always so that the faster and easier you can do it, the better.
If it works as Apple claims, then the iPhone 15 Pro's ability to record directly to an external hard drive is enormous. This will be a huge success, and enough that people might even buy iPhones with less storage capacity than before.
But for moving clips, for sending dailies to someone off-site and sometimes hundreds or thousands of miles away for viewing, this is usually done fastest online.
And unfortunately, no matter what Apple says, iCloud never makes it fast on the Internet. Despite all its strengths, and regardless of the speed of your Internet connection, iCloud is slow.
Consumers have no reason to worry that it will take several minutes for some photos to sync between devices. But when the footage takes hours and takes hours to share, having more space is of no use.
In addition, filmmakers already have at least one better option: Frame.io.
Adobe bought Frame.io in 2021 for $1.275 billion. It's an online service for filmmakers in the studio or on set to quickly show footage to editors or sponsors located far away.
Frame.io is not just one service for transporting footage that was included quickly in the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription service. And then Adobe added the ability to view the footage on Apple TV.
This suggests that such a service exists and shows that there is a real need for it. But what's most telling about Adobe's proposal is that it offers less space than Apple's new tiers.
If necessary, movie studios can negotiate rates for more space and more users using that space, but Frame.io's published tiers exceed 3 TB.
It's 3TB that can be used by up to 16 users, and it costs $25 per month. For each user. This is a maximum of $400 per month.
Apple's closest equivalents after adding the new iCloud+ tiers are 2TB for $9.99 per month or the new 6TB for $30 per month.
Also, if a filmmaker wants to kill time between installations by playing some Apple Arcade games, they can do so and get the same 2TB of iCloud+ space through the Apple One Premier package for $32.95 per month.
In addition, for iCloud + there are no restrictions on the number of licenses per seat. Any number of users can have iCloud+ accounts — Apple is unlikely to stop them — and there may be a shared folder between them.
Film budgets can be big, but no film company pays a penny more than it needs to, so the cheaper option will always be considered. But the real cost of filmmaking is time, and iCloud+ loses here, loses by a wide margin.
iCloud is used for such storage – this is a Finder-level system in which you manage files. By comparison, Frame.io is integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud — and the very popular video editor Adobe Premiere.
To break this ease of integration, iCloud+ needs to be better and simpler than its competitors. In addition, it must be available equally to all production participants who need it.
Back in 2021, AppleInsider announced that it was finally possible to use iCloud folder sharing as a true alternative to Dropbox — but only for some users. Works best if everyone uses Apple devices.
PC users can see and use your shared files, but they have to do so by signing in to iCloud.com and they're just not going to do it.
Apple doesn't know who to target it at or who to price it for
Apple insists that professionals need space and it provides it here, but it also awkwardly balanced between talking about professional and casual users.
“Starting next week, iCloud+ is adding two new plans: 6 and 12 terabytes,” said Greg Joswiak, senior vice president of worldwide marketing, “to give you even more storage space for your photos and videos.” .
That's every word he said about the upgrade, and without the price tag it sounds great.
Given the price, this does not seem like a consumer service. If $30 and $60 a month sound like a lot, try thinking of it as $360 or $720 a year. That $720 is a new iPhone or about 12TB of physical SSD storage per year.
After years of not having enough iCloud+ storage options, it seems like Apple is just looking to see what happens. The company's target market is unclear, and its pricing strategy simply multiplies what it already offers.
Only Apple sells iCloud+ storage directly and as part of the consumer-facing Apple One package. It will be interesting to see if Apple complicates the top Apple One Premier package by including options for new tiers.
Apple is usually surgically precise in determining who a product or service is aimed at, and in the long run this also often proves to be right. This could happen now; Apple appears to have carefully planned the new levels.
But it doesn't look like it. And if you're the one who jumped on this ad because you're forever stuck at the limits of your iCloud+ storage, you're probably also the one who got pushed down again by the price