Grey skies have enveloped most of the Australian east coast today, but Apple fans only care about a cloud of a different kind.

“iCloud lets you access all your files with any of your devices,” explains Tara Brady of Australian MacWorld – also a Niche Media publication. “If I have a document or a song originally from my laptop, it sends it to the cloud where it’s immediately accessible from my iPad or my iPhone.”

Gone should be the days of running home to put a file on a USB, or cursing the absence of a song on your iPad that you do have on your iPhone. It will all be retrievable from… the cloud. Cloud computing isn’t new, and while Apple’s first attempt with MobileMe was a mini failure, Google and Amazon came along with pretty impressive offerings. While they were decent, they fell down on the amount of effort demanded to save your existing files to the cloud.

The service will fortify Apple's position in digital distribution of entertainment.

Music is now a major part of most people’s computing, tablet or smartphone experience, and Apple’s iCloud takes out the effort from backing up your files; it does it automatically. Every song you have, whether it was purchased on iTunes or not, will be replaced with a new version of the song from iTunes (provided it is for sale on the service), meaning that music pirates who ripped poor quality songs will get a nice upgrade to a higher bit rate file.

“Google and Amazon don’t have a chance of competing with this,” Brady tells Marketing magazine, “because Apple have the big four labels on board, meaning most popular songs can be replaced. It also eliminates using your bandwith to upload all your music online.”

Mark Little, principal analyst at Ovum agrees Apple has surged ahead with their offering.

“[iCloud] compares well with Amazon’s Cloud Drive and Google’s rather lazy Beta for Music,” he says, “which force users to upload their music collections all over again.

“Apple does appear to be setting iCloud up to be more user friendly than Amazon’s and Google’s offering. This focus on consumer experience looks to support Apple’s continued dominance of the digital music market, but much depends on the business model chosen.”

Little thinks that Apple needs to let MobileMe die and not allow iCloud become riddled with the same price problems, including the annual $99 price tag that proved unpopular with consumers, if it is to succeed in pacifying growing competition.

“If iCloud is bundled with an unchanged MobileMe, Apple could land itself with a handicap,” he says. “However, if the storage and applications available in MobileMe are significantly upgraded with other useful services, at the right price, Apple could at last be creating a cloud platform as a base from which to defend iTunes’ dominant position, not just against Amazon and Google but perhaps more importantly, against Spotify.”