Whose cloud is it anyway? Apple sinks $30m a month into rival Amazon's AWS – report

iPhone maker set to feed competitor even more dollars over the next five years


Apple has been identified as one of the largest customers of Amazon Web Services, splashing tens of millions of dollars each month on public cloud infrastructure supplied by its rival.

Amazon competes with Apple in the mobile device market with its Kindle Fire tablets, and in voice-activated personal assistants with Alexa. Both companies offer music streaming services, and this autumn Apple will launch a competitor to Amazon Prime Video called Apple TV+.

Despite all this, Apple currently spends more than $30m a month with AWS, people familiar with the matter told CNBC – more than any other publicly announced customer. And the amount of investment is increasing, with the company reportedly spending a projected $360m total in 2019 compared to $350m over 2018.

The same sources said that several months ago, Apple signed an agreement that includes a commitment to spend at least $1.5bn with AWS over the course of five years.

Back in February, Apple posted a job advert to recruit a senior DevOps engineer for its Cupertino HQ that could help the company architect its "growing AWS footprint".

Apple previously admitted it used AWS infrastructure for iCloud storage, but has never revealed the extent of its partnership with the world's largest cloud provider. In 2018, Apple confirmed it also stored some data with Google Cloud.

It's possible that public cloud from AWS is being used as a stop gap, ahead of Apple building out its own infrastructure. At the beginning of 2018, the company said it would spend $10bn on data centres in the US over the next five years, including a new $1bn campus in Texas. And in December, it revealed that $4.5bn of the total would be spent by the end of 2019.

Given the downturn in hardware sales for Apple, it is putting more emphasis on services - delivered via its bit barns. The company has stopped disclosing unit sales for iPhones and other hardware and started providing a more detailed breakdown of its services business.

But extricating yourself from a particular cloud provider over competing business interests is not unheard of: Walmart recently switched from AWS to Azure, admitting that the deal was fuelled by its animosity towards Amazon. US retailer Target was another business to move to Azure as reported surfaced just days after Amazon acquired Whole Foods and moved into the physical retail space.

Apple simultaneously competes against three of the world's largest cloud providers: Microsoft is an old nemesis, and no doubt some of its executives still feel the pain of the "I'm a PC" days; Apple's beef With Google is more recent – it will never be forgiven for creating Android, which might or might not have been inspired by prototype Apple products that were seen by Larry Page and Sergey Brin prior to 2004. Steve Jobs certainly thought it was – hence the famous pledge to "go thermonuclear" on the Chocolate Factory. ®


Other stories you might like

  • Google sours on legacy G Suite freeloaders, demands fee or flee

    Free incarnation of online app package, which became Workplace, is going away

    Google has served eviction notices to its legacy G Suite squatters: the free service will no longer be available in four months and existing users can either pay for a Google Workspace subscription or export their data and take their not particularly valuable businesses elsewhere.

    "If you have the G Suite legacy free edition, you need to upgrade to a paid Google Workspace subscription to keep your services," the company said in a recently revised support document. "The G Suite legacy free edition will no longer be available starting May 1, 2022."

    Continue reading
  • SpaceX Starlink sat streaks now present in nearly a fifth of all astronomical images snapped by Caltech telescope

    Annoying, maybe – but totally ruining this science, maybe not

    SpaceX’s Starlink satellites appear in about a fifth of all images snapped by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a camera attached to the Samuel Oschin Telescope in California, which is used by astronomers to study supernovae, gamma ray bursts, asteroids, and suchlike.

    A study led by Przemek Mróz, a former postdoctoral scholar at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and now a researcher at the University of Warsaw in Poland, analysed the current and future effects of Starlink satellites on the ZTF. The telescope and camera are housed at the Palomar Observatory, which is operated by Caltech.

    The team of astronomers found 5,301 streaks leftover from the moving satellites in images taken by the instrument between November 2019 and September 2021, according to their paper on the subject, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters this week.

    Continue reading
  • AI tool finds hundreds of genes related to human motor neuron disease

    Breakthrough could lead to development of drugs to target illness

    A machine-learning algorithm has helped scientists find 690 human genes associated with a higher risk of developing motor neuron disease, according to research published in Cell this week.

    Neuronal cells in the central nervous system and brain break down and die in people with motor neuron disease, like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease, named after the baseball player who developed it. They lose control over their bodies, and as the disease progresses patients become completely paralyzed. There is currently no verified cure for ALS.

    Motor neuron disease typically affects people in old age and its causes are unknown. Johnathan Cooper-Knock, a clinical lecturer at the University of Sheffield in England and leader of Project MinE, an ambitious effort to perform whole genome sequencing of ALS, believes that understanding how genes affect cellular function could help scientists develop new drugs to treat the disease.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022