On Monday, Apple unveiled iCloud, a new service for remote storage of user data. Some people, including our own Jon Stokes, are skeptical of Apple's chances of getting iCloud to work at scale. And history seems to be on their side. iCloud is at least Apple's fourth attempt to create a viable cloud computing service. The previous incarnations included iTools in 2000, .Mac in 2002, and MobileMe in 2008. As Fortune wrote about MobileMe a few weeks ago, "MobileMe was a dud. Users complained about lost e-mails, and syncing was spotty at best." iTools and .Mac were not exactly resounding successes either.
Apple's perennial difficulty with creating scalable online services is not a coincidence. Apple has a corporate culture that emphasizes centralized, designer-led product development. This process has produced user-friendly devices that are the envy of the tech world. But developing fast, reliable online services requires a more decentralized, engineering-driven corporate culture like that found at Google.