Over the last couple weeks, I’ve gotten multiple warnings from Apple that my iCloud storage is nearly full. If not for my line of work, this would have been one of the first times I’d been asked to think about iCloud, Apple’s automatic online backup and sync service, since updating to iOS 5. It’s also the first time I’ve been asked to pay for it — I had assumed, perhaps wrongly, that since my first backups didn’t exceed the 5GB free storage allotment I would never need to pay.
While the warning emails have been part of iCloud from the beginning, Apple appears to be nudging its users lately:
Is everyone getting iCloud storage notice warnings at the same time?— Peter Kafka
At the low rate my storage demands are increasing, I’m probably only going to need to upgrade to the $20-a-year option. But still, at launch, iCloud didn’t feel like something I would need to pay for. Now, I’m stuck paying a yearly fee to keep syncing my backups over the air. To put it another way, I’m paying at least $20 a year to stop using iTunes.
This unpleasant surprise, if it’s as common as I think it will be, is a problem for Apple. But a bigger problem? A lot of the people getting these emails have no idea what iCloud is. And why should they?
iCloud works in the background and doesn’t really do anything; it’s mostly a backup tool, which means by definition you don’t see it working and rarely interact with it. iCloud isn’t an app — you don’t use it, it’s just something you have.
But I’m just annoyed that I’m getting asked to pay for something I thought I’d get away with using for free. Other people don’t know, or care, what it is in the first place. Here are some other people who don’t seem too excited about Apple’s upsell:
What is iCloud ? Keep getting notifications about my settings on it and I don’t even know what it does— Bonita AppleBum
Had my iPhone for a couple of months and still don’t know what iCloud is or how to use it…— Nathan Mason
I do not understand anything about this iCloud malarky, I just keep getting notifications on my mac and iPhone that i’ve run out of space.— Hus
Trying to explain to my mother what iCloud is #hopeless— Ani Haroian
What is iCloud ??? Sum1 pls fill me in !!!— Mickey Slaughter
What do ppl do when their iCloud storage is almost full?— Michelle Hampton
What is iCloud and do I want it?— Liane Michnoff
I don’t understand what iCloud is.— Mirandie.
Someone inform me what this iCloud shit is..— Timothy Rouss
My iCloud storage is almost full. I thought it was a fuckin’ cloud?— Black Francis
“Your iCloud storage is almost full,” seriously DIE.— Lacey
If an iCloud upgrade is going to be effectively mandatory — and of course our storage demands are going to get higher, especially with Mountain Lion on the horizon — Apple should probably do a better job of telling people about it. Nobody wants to pay for something they’ve never heard of.