Apple adds new iCloud+ storage options but at extra cost
Users will finally be able to get more iCloud+ storage, but the price will be too high for anyone except professionals like filmmakers who have better options.
Perhaps Apple only wedged its way into its new iCloud+ tiers 80 minutes into the iPhone 15 launch 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 comes hot on the heels of a description of the iPhone 15 Pro that included numerous references to how filmmakers shoot and manage large files. This was specifically related to how fast data transfer is over the new USB-C—at least on the Pro models—and how the devices can record video 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.
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 film 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.
Plus, no director would trust their footage to iCloud+, or at least never to iCloud+ alone. Apple’s iCloud is designed to sync between devices, and it’s not possible to back up a Mac 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. Plus, 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 some 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.
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 anywhere – for editing, for review, so that people paying the budget can see what they are getting.
Videos are constantly transferred between people, and it’s always the case 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, it’s never done quickly online using iCloud. 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.
Plus, filmmakers already have at least one better option: Frame.io.
Adobe bought Frame.io in 2021 for $1.275 billion. This is an online service for filmmakers in the studio or on location, allowing them to quickly show their footage to editors or sponsors located far away.
Adobeframe.io is part of the Creative Cloud, along with the Premiere video editor.
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, film studios can negotiate rates for more space and more users using that space, but Frame.io’s published tiers exceed 3TB.
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.
Additionally, if a filmmaker wants to kill time between setups 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, iCloud+ has no limit on the number of licenses per seat. iCloud+ accounts can have any number of users – Apple is unlikely to prevent them – and there can 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.
For this type of storage, iCloud is a Finder-level system where you manage your files. By comparison, Frame.io is integrated into Adobe Creative Cloud, as is 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, it said 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.
Apple’s Greg Joswiak announces new iCloud+ tiers
PC users can see and use your shared files, but they have to do it while signed in to iCloud.com, and they’re just not going to do it.
Apple doesn’t know who to target this at or who to price it for
Apple has been hard on its insistence that professionals need space, and it’s providing it here, but it walks awkwardly between talking about pro users and everyday 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.
Considering the price, it doesn’t feel 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.
It feels like after years of not having enough iCloud+ storage options, Apple just wants 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 someone who jumped on this ad because you’re constantly running up against your iCloud+ storage limits, you’re probably also someone who’s been priced out again because of the price.