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5/15/2012
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Eric Zeman
Eric Zeman
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Apple iCloud Refresh Eyes Social Weak Spot

Apple is preparing to make it easier to share photos through its iCloud service. It can't let Google have all the photo-sharing fun.

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Apple plans to make some major changes to its iCloud service, reports the Wall Street Journal. According to unnamed sources, Apple is looking to add some social networking features to iCloud in the form of a new photo-sharing service.

The new features will come to light at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, which kicks off in mid-June. At WWDC, Apple is expected to preview the next version of iOS, as well as talk up new applications and updates to existing applications. WWDC may also be the stage for a refresh of Apple's laptops.

With respect to iCloud. however, the Journal says that users of iCloud will be able to share photo albums with other iCloud users, as well as comment on them.

Does this service sound familiar to anyone?

The hallmark feature offered by many of today's social networks is the ability to share photos with friends and loved ones. Think Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and dozens of others. These social players bank on the idea that people like the share their experiences with others, and spreading photos is the best way to do that.

For example, I spent the week of May 6 in New Orleans to attend the CTIA Wireless trade show. What did I (and many other show attendees) do? I took dozens of photos and shared them all over the place, with pretty much every social network account that I have.

In its current form, iCloud and its Photo Stream component are more of a back-up and syncing service meant to move photos between Apple devices, such as from the iPhone to a Mac or iPad. Photo Stream doesn't store all a user's photos, only the most recent 1000 images. Aside from passing them between Apple devices, Photo Stream and iCloud don't let you do much with them.

Based on the potential addition of this service to iCloud and Photo Stream, it's clear that Apple is looking to make up for its social network shortcoming: photo-sharing.

Sure, Apple's devices have great integration with Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, but Apple doesn't have a photo-sharing service to call its own.

Apple's main competitor, Google, does. Google has offered Picasa for years, which was and still is a decent online tool for storing and sharing photos and photo albums. Now Google has Google+, which also prioritizes the ability to share images. Google+ works on both the Android platform and the iOS platform.

Is the ability to easily share photos a vital service? Perhaps not, but it is human nature to share. If Apple doesn't provide a place for its users to share experiences, those customers will seek out other places to share--and they have.

The Enterprise 2.0 Conference brings together industry thought leaders to explore the latest innovations in enterprise social software, analytics, and big data tools and technologies. Learn how your business can harness these tools to improve internal business processes and create operational efficiencies. It happens in Boston, June 18-21. Register today!

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