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Vinh Le (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Photo courtesy Vinh Le (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The ongoing revelation of possible security problems in Apple’s iCloud will be enough to add friction not only to Apple’s cloud strategy, but for many people, this will be one of the sticking perceptions of “the cloud” in general. This friction could hinder adoption of cloud architectures for everyday use, or at a minimum could cloud “the cloud” as a positive or neutral platform.

Though there are good technical definitions of “the cloud”, many still equate it with “the internet” in some way. It isn’t stored on my computer, it’s stored somewhere else, so it’s in “the cloud”. But for many people, the definition still somewhat cloudy, so they depend upon marketers, news stories—and gossip—to form their understanding.

Apple was an early and ubiquitous player to incorporate “cloud” into its brand system with “iCloud” – which offered transparent storage of photos, bookmarks, contacts, etc on internet servers allowing that data to be shared among devices without any thought. Many didn’t really understand how or what was going on, but trusted that having an “i” before “Cloud” would make everything right.

If iCloud is someone’s first or primary exposure or impression of “the cloud”, when celebrities’ photos are hacked away from iCloud, when news stories or gossip about this overtakes marketing as the primary conversation about “the cloud”, it will stick to The Cloud.

Note that I said “hacked”. Just as the term “hacker” evolved a negative connotation over time when the meaning was shifted from clever programmer to malicious technocriminal, terms can take on connotative values or sentiments that depart from the original. Caveat “cloud”.