Apple's plans to launch its latest iPhone will be closely watched for its specs, new features, and ability to get consumers to line up for the device, but iCloud's rollout will be far more strategic.
If you were to rank Apple's launches in order of importance, they'd be iCloud, iOS 5, and then the iPhone 5.
In other words, don't get confused by the shiny objects. Apple's iCloud, which seems like old news since it had a coming out party at WWDC over the summer, is also likely to kick off. As iCloud's launch goes so does Apple's transition from a PC-centric vendor to one more equipped for the decades to come. If iCloud has iOutages and other issues it will be a black mark on Apple.
Wells Fargo analyst Jason Maynard said in a research note:
The most profound takeaway from the June WWDC event was Steve Jobs' statement that the PC/Mac has been demoted to a spoke in the iCloud hub. We believe there is a major battle going on among Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft for consumer Internet dominance. At the core, we think the battle is about the control of data. The convergence of software, hardware and Internet services is leading to an asymmetric fight among the gorillas. Our thesis is that the platform that creates the most value will store the most data. The platform that stores the most data will ultimately, in our view, be the winner(s).
On the iOS 5 front, the biggest questions will revolve around whether native Twitter integration and potentially closer Facebook ties can make Apple more social. It's worth noting that Twitter integration is key for Apple--a company that doesn't bother with the social broadcasting service.
In fact, Twitter may be a strategic play against Facebook, which may launch an app for the iPad, but is more likely to go HTML5 and appeal to developers directly. Frankly, Facebook doesn't really need Apple to be a gatekeeper to its audience.
Bringing up the rear to Apple's shindig tomorrow may be the next iPhone. It's only natural to be wowed by better cameras and new features, but keep your eye on the ball. Apple's immediate future will be dictated by its cloud launch, software, and the aggregation of your data in the land of tech giants.
This story originally posted on ZDNet's Between the Lines.