AppleTV Drops Local Storage in Favor of the Cloud

by Lynnette Nolan | Oct 19, 2010

Apple recently released a new version of their AppleTV. For those of you who aren't familiar with this device, I'll share a bit of history.

When AppleTV launched a little over three years ago, it was essentially an iPod, the size of a book, that you could plug into your TV. You could purchase a model with a 40GB hard drive for $299, import your music, videos and photos to it and enjoy these files through your TV and home stereo. It was an innovative product, but it never really took off the way many of Apple's products have. My instinct tells me that many people were not willing to pay $299 for a glorified 40GB hard drive they could plug into their TV.

Fast-forward three years to the current release. This version is just $99 and it now fits in the palm of your hand. How did Apple manage to deliver a more fully- featured device at 1/3 the cost just a few short years later? Easy – they dropped local storage and moved the content to the cloud.

The new AppleTV streams music, videos and photos from any Apple computer in your home network, as well as a new streaming rental system that offers instant delivery of movies and TV shows both from Netflix and Apple's iTunes store. Not only is this device cheaper, smaller and easier to set-up, but rather than being limited to 40GB of local memory, the new AppleTV will play an unlimited amount of cloud-based content.

As an entrepreneur, I'm always interested to learn about any new product coming out of Cupertino – they run a product development and marketing machine out there that is the envy of the tech industry. However, I find AppleTV's evolution to be of particular interest, because I see clear parallels between they way they have leveraged the cloud to optimize their product and the way Carbonite has leveraged the cloud to optimize data backup.

Just a few years ago, when you said "backup" it implied a local external hard drive. Now, with products like Carbonite, it's all in the cloud. Like the original Apple TV, traditional backup methods are limited by storage capacity, they are complicated, expensive, and easy for the average user to mess up. Plus, consumer-grade external hard drives are failure-prone and easy to damage. Knock one off the table onto a hard floor, and all your data is gone.

With the new AppleTV, you don't need a local drive – movies stream directly over the Internet. The same thing happens with Carbonite. If you have Carbonite, all of your files are automatically in the cloud. You don't have to do a thing – it just happens. Now that your files are in the cloud, you can get to them from anywhere. Want to show your friend at work a picture that's on your home computer? No problem – Carbonite has your picture backed up and you can access it on your smartphone using one of our mobile apps. Forgot your laptop for an important presentation? No problem – just grab the powerpoint file from your Carbonite backup using any computer. We're transitioning into a whole new world where all your data lives in your "personal cloud" and is accessible anywhere on Earth, with any device. And it all happens with no effort; no wires, no hardware, no software to learn and nothing to remember other than knowing you're backed up.

Dave
CEO, Carbonite