Apple’s iCloud Will Be Great for Families

Ben Bajarin / June 6th, 2011

As the dust has settled from Apple’s WWDC Keynote and iCloud announcement, I have taken some time to reflect on the full implications of iCloud. One of the conculsions I have reached is that there is not just a great deal of value for individual consumers but also for families.

iCloud will be the glue that ties all of a consumers Apple products together. What’s more is that it will be the glue that will tie all of a families Apple products together.

That is critical for several reasons:

Firstly, consumers are no longer interested in isolated experiences with their products. They are more interested in a product and/or service that works more like a solution than a product. This is not just important for the individual but also for the family. Many of these products are not used in a single consumer home. So the ability to share and access photos, music, documents, tasks, calendars, and other data becomes extremely valuable.

In my own experience it is very difficult to keep music libraries and photo libraries in-sync across mine and my wife’s computers – which are all Macs. To go a step further our calendars are always completely out of sync. iCloud will address many of these issues and in the process provide tremendous value to the family unit.

This is part of the “consumerization of IT” trend we have been talking about for years. Enterprises have had univeral and shared access to critical data and information essential to employees to get their job done. The Internet has streamlined this even more for enterprises, providing universal access to critical data through the cloud. The same need is true with families and is now becoming a reality with iCloud.

The second reason this is critical is because iCloud becomes a loyalty driver to Apple products. If consumers, as a part of the Apple ecosystem, begin to trust and depend on iCloud as a part of their experience, there is less of a chance that those consumer’s will leave Apple products in the future.

This is true because of the philosophy of “sunk-costs”. The philosophy of sunk-costs, states that when consumers have emotional or economic costs that they have sunk into a platform or service, they tend to stay loyal to that platform or service.

This is one of the primary reason’s so many consumers that were Windows PC customers were hesitant to switch to the Mac. They had sunk-costs into Windows software that switching was a burden and simply not a desirable option. This also proves true when you think about who provides your TV service. Whether it is cable or satellite the idea of having to have your house completely re-wired and set up with a new service provider discourages the desire to switch from one to the other.

This is true even in my own experience where I have thousands of dollars of sunk-costs into iTunes music, iPhone and iPad apps. Because of that I am less likely to switch to something like Android or Windows Phone or any other mobile platform.

This reality of sunk-costs factors into the consumer buying decision. This is true for the individual consumer but what happens when the philosophy of sunk-costs becomes reality for families?

The result I think is that the family and family members may stay loyal to a specific hardware, software and services platform.

This is a powerful reality if it becomes true.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
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