Apple’s shift to iCloud continues with all due haste. On the heels of shutting down MobileMe, its previous-generation cloud platform, the company has announced that the iWork.com public beta will end on July 31, 2012.
As of that date, “you will no longer be able to access your documents on the iWork.com site or view them on the Web,” reads Apple’s note on the matter, followed by a recommendation that anyone with documents on iWork download them to the desktop. Apple, ever conscious of those tiny details, also included a link in the note to a support article titled, “How to save your documents to a computer.”
MobileMe originally launched in 2008 as a cloud service for storing addresses, documents, pictures, email and other multimedia. After it attracted negative reviews from some prominent tech journalists, including the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs decided to bring the pain to MobileMe’s development team.
“Can anyone tell me what MobileMe is supposed to do?” he asked the team, according to Walter Jacobson’s bestselling biography, before launching into a tirade: “You should hate each other for having let each other down.”
Sometime later, Jobs explained his cloud philosophy to Jacobson: “We need to be the company that manages your relationship with the cloud—streams your music and videos from the cloud, stores your pictures and information, and maybe even your medical data.” He predicted that “over the next few years,” the center of people’s computing lives would gravitate from desktop or laptop to the cloud: “It’s the same digital hub strategy, but the hub’s in a different place.”
Apple later produced iCloud, which serves content (including music, photos, contacts, documents and so on) to all the user’s enabled Mac and iOS devices. And true to Jobs’ prediction, Apple competitors such as Google and Microsoft have made strides in the consumer cloud—whether Google offering a multimedia and app hub via Google Play, or Microsoft introducing an app store and baked-in SkyDrive functionality with the upcoming Windows 8.
But MobileMe and iWork are destined for the scrap-bin of tech history—not exactly a surprise for anyone who’s followed Apple over the past few years, to put it mildly.