iCloud pricing demystified

iCloud png (from http://www.apple.com/icloud/)
iCloud png (from http://www.apple.com/icloud/)

Apple’s iCloud is getting closer to release and yesterday we heard about its storage pricing. It appears that you get 5GB of storage for free and then it’s $20/year for an extra 10GB, $40/year for an extra 2oGB or $100/year for an extra 50GB.

Apple didn’t reveal pricing after that but presumably you would purchase storage in whatever increment you needed.

As a comparison,

  • Microsoft’s Azure prices storage in two components, at $0.15/GB/month and $0.01/10000 storage transactions. So for 15GB of storage a year, it would cost $27.  It doesn’t appear that you get any storage for frees.  As for transaction costs these represent storage adds, updates, deletes, and/or reads. For most storage uses, this is probably in the noise but if you are streaming video or music this might add up to be a consideration.
  • Amazon’s S3 storage pricing is at $0.14/GB/onth but provide the 1st 5GB free.  That same 15GB of S3 storage would cost you ~$16.80  Amazon also has a storage transaction pricing but separates out reads $0.01/10K reads from everything else ($0.01/1K transactions). Again this is probably in the noise for most users.  Furthermore, S3 adds a transfer clip charge as well as a transaction cost.  Which is $0 for “transfers in” S3 but $0.12/GB for “transfers out” (after the 15GB data transfers out you get for free). Amazon also adds separate pricing for redundant storage priced at ~66% of the primary copy.  Presumably if you wanted redundant storage for iCloud or Azure you would pay at normal storage rates.

So we would have to conclude that Apple’s iCloud storage pricing seems to be in the middle of the pack.  Both Azure and S3 have different tiers of pricing which gets less expensive the more you store on these services which Apple’s announced pricing does not.   Although, this may change as we get closer to iCloud general availability.

Other iCloud services besides storage

Some other advantages to Apple’s iCloud offering include:

  • iCloud has a photo sharing application which costs nothing to share photos taken from your iPhone or iPad.  Photo’s shared from other devices will probably increase your storage costs.
  • iCloud also has a music service.  Although iCloud will store all your iTunes purchased music and sync it with any iTunes compatible device, it’s unclear how you pay for music storage.  Also there is some sort of match feature which allows non-iTunes purchased music to also be saved in iCloud and synched to other devices.
  • Calendar, contacts and email are also stored in the cloud and synced to any device.
  • Pages, Numbers and Keynote users can also store and sync these office files across any IOS or MacOSX end point.

Unclear how the storage for these apps is calculated but email, Pages, Numbers, and Keynote storage could represent a significant capacity consumer.

Neither Azure or S3 seem to offer any automated synching services for calendar, contacts or email. However you can get Microsoft office and Exchange in the cloud today which probably have similar capabilities. Moreover, Amazon has a music service that can be used to purchase music.  And there are a number of photo sharing cloud services that exist, for example Flickr.


Cloud storage is becoming mainstream (if it’s not already).  Apple’s iCloud seems a natural outgrowth of this trend and a worthy addition to the IOS and Mac OSX family of products.