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The clean and the sloppy, the pure and the cloud

|Includes: Apple Inc. (AAPL), GOOG

A study in contrast, two job candidates. Ralph Google floats in, somewhat disheveled and bizarrely translucent. Tell me your greatest weakness, Ralph. “I’m curious, Sir, and I talk too much.” Surely enough, Ralph swiftly rummages through the paperwork on your desk, describing it loudly and in detail while office colleagues stop in the doorway to listen. Next candidate, Louie Apple. Almost robotic, but excellently mannered, with upright posture and firm handshake. Same question. “I am clean, Sir, almost sterile, and excessively well organized.” Apologetically, almost sheepishly, Louie straightens out the mess of your papers and sundry items into perfect stacks, logically ordered, and wipes off crumbs and loose paperclips neatly into the trash bin. A study in contrast, like I said, from whence the expressions: “to hang a Louie” and to “hang a Ralph.” Two opposite alternatives.

I came across this article from Business Insider the other day about the virtues of Google’s upload feature, which allows Google Docs users to tap into 250 MB of document storage capacity remotely on Google’s servers at no cost. With a Google login, one can then access stored documents with any Internet connection anywhere. Moreover, as documents are stored in the Google Docs system, these can be shared with other users without having to email bulky attachments around, simply by inviting others to view the documents online. A real cloud miracle! A wonder! And exactly the kind of service that cloud evangelists from coast to coast have been preaching these past years. Why, but imagine: Google’s secure and redundant systems, ease of use, transportability, reduced personal hardware requirements, virus-free storage, no cost, etc. and so on… had this been two or three weeks ago, it would have resonated well. But now that we’ve had our interview with Ralph, which is to say, the Google Buzz debacle fresh in our memory banks, and having born witness to the cavalier way in which Google opened up its email users’ private information, we have to pause. Even if briefly, but longer than we might have paused before. Do we trust the cloud? I don’t know, I’m asking.

This question bouncing around in my mind, I noticed the rigmarole and indignation with which Apple’s decision to ban adult content from its app store has been received. While the blogosphere ran mostly rampant with disbelief, legal debate, pontification, even outright anger, one industry observer raised the possibility that Apple’s house-cleaning and newly found family values may be an attempt to lure the education market to the purity and safety of its products. Perhaps so, perhaps this was the rationale. Still, I find it interesting, and not necessarily inconsistent with the theory, that the timing of Apple’s broadly sensationalized decision would coincide with a public relations problem of quite a different sort for Google. In short, I detect a signal of sorts, a reminder from the sponsor, about cleanliness and the sloppy; purity and the cloud.

(It probably bears noting that memory-intensive hardware with plentiful hard-drive capacity and locally hosted software is a core part of Apple’s product mix, which stands in opposition to a cloudy Google Docs upload system.) 

Disclosure: No positions.