Other features of iCloud include contact, calendar and mail synchronization across multiple devices -- a duty the $99-per-year MobileMe currently serves -- as well as syncing purchased apps, photos and iBook-bought books; storing email messages and documents; and backing up selected data.
Document syncing is enabled in the newest versions of Apple's own productivity apps -- Pages, Numbers and Keynote -- but will require third-party developers to revamp their software to use iCloud.
Users will receive a 5GB storage allowance for storing email messages and documents, and for backing up other data.
Contrary to some rumors, which had pegged immediate iCloud availability, the service will launch along with iOS 5 this fall. Developers, however, will get their hands on a beta edition today, as well as access to the APIs (application programming interfaces) necessary to sync data in their programs using the service.
Gottheil applauded iCloud's approach.
"It makes a lot of sense.... Apple doesn't want to store all your stuff, but it's going to try really, really hard to make it so that you can easily get to all the stuff you currently have," Gottheil said.
He was even more impressed with Apple's business sense, and saw iCloud as another way the company will leverage its software -- or in this case a service -- to sell more hardware.
"Apple's saying, 'We want everyone to join our club, but now we don't charge a membership fee. You buy our hardware, and you're in the club," said Gottheil. "Apple will store your data, put your pictures and music where you can get them, all that kind of stuff. 'Join the Apple club and we'll take care of you,' they're saying. 'Don't pay any attention to the price of the thing [the hardware], what you're buying is a way of doing these sorts of things."
During the keynote, Jobs ceded the stage to other Apple executives, who highlighted Mac OS X 10.7, better known as Lion, as well as iOS 5, the next version of the mobile operating system that powers the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Philip Schiller, Apple's vice president of marketing, and Craig Federighi, the company's vice president of Mac software engineering, walked the audience of developers through 10 of the new features in Lion, which Apple will release next month.
Apple plans to sell Lion exclusively through its own Mac App Store for $29.99, slightly more than the $29 price for Snow Leopard two years ago.
Previously, Apple had charged $129 for its operating system upgrades.
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