- Someone who owns a computer, with a monitor, a keyboard and a mouse (of course)
- Someone with a decent internet access
- Someone who has either invested or going to invested 100's of hours to properly learn the iOS/Mac frameworks
- Someone who is hoping to either make a living off his Mac development or threats this as in important hobby
- Someone who will be able to afford to pay $20+/monthly = $240+/yearly
- And finally, someone who is either unable to afford an older mac mini ($200-300 as noted in other comments) OR someone who has no cheap way to deliver older mac hardware to his home country.
From all the above, the potential market size seems too small to me to be an interesting business. Am I missing something?
There IS NO aws / EC2 service for macs. I can't just spin up some instances to handle the load and spin down after the engineers go home. The options are literally run to the Apple store and blow a few grand on a couple of boxes, which are hopefully in stock, which we then upkeep indefinitely in a physical closet. To handle a big spike, we really need like 10, but that's a big cash outlay for machines that will be idle in 6 weeks.
I am a developer, and hunting and installing Mac Minis, dealing with RMAs and AppleCare, etc., is not being productive for me. We're small enough that getting a network guy to handle that (assuming you can even find Apple network guys) is not economical. This looks like an easy solution.
The absence of a "heterogenous" cloud (I know, this is a contradiction in terms) is part of why our business has to drag a server room around...
I think you are. I work fulltime at a bank for my paycheck. I have an internet connection in my apartment, and an office assigned wintel laptop. When I get home at 6ish, I can maybe put it 2-3 hours of coding. Right now I code 8 hours of Scala for my dayjob. Have always been wanting to check out what objective-C is all about. Perhaps I could learn how to write an app. Don't have an iphone ipad imac etc. So paying $40 a month to check this out is not such a bad idea. I'll sign up, see if I can hack objective-C on the iOS, and take it from there.
Assuming yes, you've maybe generated them $100 in revenue. They would need 10,000 people like you to generate their first million in revenue, and they have obviously many costs.
Do you think the world has at least 10,000 people interested in iOS development who don't have a mac yet? 100,000?
Well, its not uncommon. From my unscientific survey among my colleagues I'd say ppl who don't own machines is upwards of 60%. Its not hard to see why. Banks work you quite hard anyways. I stare at a PC 8 hours a day. Plus there's the pager so you can respond to calls at night & so on...the association of PC=Work becomes quite hardwired. Last thing I'd want to do is muck around with a computer at home as well. If I buy a PC/Mac, like a desktop with monitor, where do I keep it ? I have to buy a computer desk and computer chair and all that? Dude I live in a tiny apartment 10 minutes from the bank. There's no space.
As to keeping up with my skills - I've been doing this some dozen plus years at this point. I will say if you know how to fold and write a parser combinator, you are golden. I know both, so my comp science degree wasn't a total waste. Most of what I do is just some combination of map reduce filter fold partition, occasionally some lazy eval/Stream, some memoization, rest is just standard finance - portfolio theory, capm, derivatives, option pricing, stochastic calculus etc - you learn those at school anyways, otherwise they won't give you a diploma, and the bank won't hire you without a diploma.
Other people though don't seem to feel as strongly about keeping their work and personal lives separate...
- Simplicity - it's very simple to select a movie on their website, and you can spare a walk to a DVD rental shop/supermarket. It's even easier to stream a movie.
- Price. $10/month is much cheaper than $15/DVD, if I watch several movies a month and don't plan to re-watch same movies very often
I don't see how that's applicable to the remove development - price argument doesn't work (it's actually cheaper to own an old Mac in the long run) and simplicity could work both ways - it's easier to start with remote development but having a local GUI development is probably easier.
Re: your decision to buy or not to buy a Mac - I just wanted to highlight that on the grand scheme of things - where you want to invest your time, which is your most valuable asset - decision to buy an old mac is an easy one to make.
Sure this all may not be a big deal to most developers. "Most" isn't "all".
Buy an iPod Touch, start writing iOS software. You can be in the black on this within days.
I suspect it might be a sneaky way to work around corporate IT department policies too "I'm not buying unsupported or non-preferred-vendor Apple hardware, I'm just using an external service, just like AWS or Akamai".
But you will use the same computer for a time.
We are all Linux/Windows Devs. But we are interested in the iOS ecosystem. This service would allows to enter without many barriers. Also it would allows to interact and be part of team developing iOS.
I think idea rocks. We could at last port some of our apps to MonoTouch.(We are using MonoDroid already).
Let's face it - if you're serious about porting your apps to iOS, you would buy a mac at some point.
Now, if iOS ends up being big for us, then yeah, we would stop using the service and buy our own machines. But then the service served its purpose.
I guess what I am trying to say is that this kind of service has a market and is not that small. But I do agree with you 100%. If you are serious about iOS development, you need to get your Mac.
And While I think the market is not big, I don't think it is that small either.
I'm literally selling blood to buy a MacBook Air just for iOS development. It's taking a while...yet for 2% of that cost I can start tonight.
I teach beginning programming. I've hesitated suggesting an iOS class because the hardware isn't there and won't be considering both school and student wallet contents...but with this service, any PC or iP* becomes an iOS development tool.
Awesome that now the entry point for iOS is a $200 iPod, $99 annual deloper fee (when you've got something ready to sell), and ~$20/mo bootstrap fee. Nothing else needed.
I admire your determination. Look, I've bought an iMac to learn IOS in my spare time. Why don't we trade - time on my iMac, and you answer my iOS questions? PM me.
"Someone who has either invested or going to invested 100's of hours to properly learn the iOS/Mac frameworks"
I think a lot of people will just want to experiment with something, or see some app, in my case I need to fix a bug in a desktop app I use. The kind of bug that I think just requires running a build and then searching forums, etc. for the error. I think the 100s of hours would have been wasted setting up virtualization and the toolchain but I can pay 20-50 a month to have that done for me.
"someone who is either unable to afford an older mac mini ($200-300 as noted in other comments) OR someone who has no cheap way to deliver older mac hardware to his home country."
A lot of people will want to try things out. There is a huge convenience value to just paying a monthly fee and logging in to a virtual system that is already setup versus the hassle of buying a mac mini, connecting it all up, setting up a virtualization, installing all the junk you need for development, etc. Not to mention the upfront cost of buying a mac mini will most likely be more than experimenting for 2-3 months. I'll need to update the software on it regularly, etc. And lastly, it is just another thing to take up space on my desk that I don't use that often that: collecting dust, taking up plug space, needing to not spill coffee on, etc.
The real question I have is developing in a GUI over remote access even feasible? How good does your inet connection really have to be? How much can be done via non-GUI ?
Re: your other comments - sure, I totally see who the service will appeal to some customers. The market is certainly there.
What I'm concerned about is the market _size_: I still believe that any current/future iOS/Mac developers will buy a Mac eventually, and there may be not many people like who only need a Mac to fix an occasional bug in an open-source Mac app, which by itself requires a significant skill.
A service like this would make it easier for me to support Mac OS X; to build for OS X, I would most likely try to set up a build VM on something like PureDarwin, and test on something a real Mac using a service like this.
That said, I don't think there is a good reason to hold back my release for Mac, so it would probably be worth waiting, and if sales go well on other platforms, I would probably be better off investing in Mac hardware.
Wouldn't this service be good for me, allowing me to easily test my code on OS X?
A bit too expensive, though.
To be fair, they offer "Anytime" plans which cost more, but let you log in any time you like :)
For example, as a monthly plan it's $30/month for anytime access up to 5 hours a day; but also $30/month for evening access up to 3 hours a day!? Who is the later plan targeted at, exactly?
Still a pretty complex pricing model, wonder what they're doing on the backend to swap sessions around.
For example, if I live on the east coast (UTC-5) and select the lowest-cost option (3 hours of use from 1am until 9am for $20), but claim my timezone is the Alaska (UTC-9) I believe I could actually use the service from 5am until 1pm in the east coast.
I don't know if that's how it would actually work, but it certainly is confusing.
That said, if you look at the academic pricing plans the presentation is much clearer and easier to understand.
The top of the box says "Monthly". To me, that means I can log in any time during the month I have paid for. Does the "minimum" really mean I can only use it 3 hours a day for each day of the month?
What I'd like: Personal files/certs etc. on my local HD, then I log in to my cloud mac and it uses my local HD files as an external hard drive of sorts. or even uses dropbox for my files. Is this possible?
> Step 2 - Experience a Free Trial
After registering your MacinCloud website account, please log in and create a new Support
Ticket under Help > Support > New Support Ticket. Click New Support Ticket -> MacinCloud Trial -> Sales, and request for a trial. Please attach a note and let us know if you have any specific needs.
Um, no, sorry. I don't have that much patience. Honestly this could be a great service for Windows-based web developers who just need a few hours on a Mac now and then for testing, but the signup process needs to be instant.
I wonder if they're doing the same (virtualized OS X, which works well but is, I believe, against Apple's EULAs) or if they use actual Macs (which would be quite burdensome)...?
Edit: confused iOS and OS X. I feel stupid.
Many people have speculated about the changes in 10.7 that made it much more like iOS, with the exact idea that one day iOS and OSX will be essentially the same thing (at least from the user perspective anyway). I certainly see them heading in this direction...
Going to be interesting times .. I suppose I have to hold onto my aging 2007 MBP another year or two and then upgrade on the next generational bump.
(If so, that would be news.)
Edit: While it is possible, I wouldn't by any means call it 'Supported'.
Also it might not be very secure for the company to allow you access to Keychain.
It seems interesting since i don't own a Mac and am interested in iOS Development, but don't want to fork out the cash for a mac mini or something similar.
Back when OS 10.1 came out I took a look at Cocoa documentation and some sample code, read up on Interface Builder, and felt intensely that this was the clean, user AND developer-friendly well-packaged Unix platform I had been dreaming of. I had to learn it, despite having a pure Unix background (Vim was my editor for many years at this point). I paid more than $3000 for a mac desktop. That was more money than I had spent on anything in my life. It also opened the doors to my next job, and my job after that. Invest in your future.
Edit - looks like there is persistent on-VM storage, from the homepage: "In additional to local hard drive space..."
Really cool concept overall, but there's a good amount of uncertainty in there. There's a handful of gramatical errors too, so maybe they aren't really ready to launch?
Yes, the analogy falls apart because you don't run proprietary software on wire-cutters. I understand that you might want to "try before you buy" with Mac and iOS dev, but I'm speaking to a slightly different issue.
If you want to do a job, you either acquire the tools to do the job (wire cutters/a Mac) or you Work Harder rather than Working Smarter (bend the wire until it breaks/shoehorn OS X onto a Hackintosh.)
With a Linux or Windows desktop equipped with a good toolbox we can cross-compile to a wide range of architectures. That this range doesn't currently include the iPhone is completely accidental; it's merely a consequence of a business decision by Apple (and it might even be a good business decision for all I know). It doesn't tell us anything about the adequacy of a Linux/Windows desktop as a tool.
There's definitely nothing stopping you from developing iOS apps on other platforms though. It's just going to be a bit more work than using the polished packages from Apple.
The ones I found were talking mostly of Objective C development for other platforms, not on other platforms. Being pretty much 100% linux-only, I do not feel like purchasing the Mac just for toying around. (And maybe this kind of service "in the cloud" could be for me - but would be curious if one can do it on linux).
Pliers are a fantastic tool. You can even put the screws in with it. But it is a very poor tool for putting in the nails. Arguably it is merely a consequence of a business decision to have nails the way they are. For that you need a hammer.
Therefore I believe the parent analogy makes perfect sense. If you wanna write iPhone apps, get the tool that does the job. At this point in time this is a Mac. Linux/Windows is a fantastic tool, but for making iPhone apps it is rather useless.
For myself - I'd probably consider using this to tinker with XCode and see if maybe I should get myself a Mac if I get into iP(hone|ad) app development beyond trying to compile "Hello world".
Anyway, having Linux as my only OS for circa 8 last years (minus some powerpoint operating system use due to practical constraints @work), I would be curious if you have any experience developing for iPhone/iPad on Linux/Windows that you can share.
It's very sad that there should be any kind of pay wall behind tinkering with your mobile phone. I get that if you intend on making an app that's going to earn you millions then buying a Mac is small change. But what if you're just starting out, and are curious about how to go about making iOS apps?
It's a real disappointment that anyone would think attaching a $1,000 price tag to programming is a good thing.
Can't afford the tools? Find another line of work.
It's the difference between having to buy a van to start a courier service, and having to buy a BMW because someone says you have to. I understand the necessity of having to own a van to run my business, but why do I have to pay extra for one that has no extra capability?
I did mobile dev for a living. Cross compiling across architectures and OSes is part and parcel to the beast. The fact that Apple won't let you is an artificial restriction.
The price of leasing a Mac Mini from Apple is $25 per month ($34 with more RAM, but that would be silly to pay for). Much cheaper than the model of renting a virtual machine, plus works with your local devices. The only problem is, Apple Business leasing has a minimum order.
Of course, if you can't stand Objective-C and want to stop, the virtual machine gives you a simpler path to quitting.
It's very common to hire tools, particularly expensive ones that you don't use very much.
Edit: By requiring 1 megabyte per second you're technically requiring the same data rate that you would need to stream dvd video. Requiring that data rate seems more consistent with the VNC protocol and not RDP.
Price each accordingly to achieve the desired outcome. My bet is, the actual usage of "unlimited" users will be similar to users of the limited plan, with a few outliers.
The pricing turns me off however. Keep it simple with free month trial and simple monthly dues after that based off of hours/day. Why do I have to pick a specific time zone? Why do I have to pick a specific time to develop? I understand the need to scale I suppose but, really, forcing users into one time zone doesn't quite help scale if they all pick the same one.
I opted out because tho it was more affordable and would probably fit my needs, I just didn't want my code on someone else's mac somewhere in the world.
So, tho this seems pretty suitable for development, there are probably a lot of developers like me who like to keep their code in their own hands.
If you're renting time on a mac like it's AOL back in the '90s you're almost certainly losing out in both the short and long terms.
For instance, at the high end of Rent-a-Mac you will be paying $49 a month or around $600 a year. In this case it would make more sense to buy a mac mini for $600 which will no doubt perform much better than a virtualization.
I think there is probably a pricing model for this type of service, however I'm guessing it would be geared toward large groups (companies) that don't want to invest in buying 20-50 new Macs. It would need to be much much cheaper than the current model or most companies will choose to just buy new Macs especially because they can get a tax write off for new equipment.
Just have a look at the "getting started page" http://www.macincloud.com/getting-started
I think the growth of tablets is really going to drive the cloud desktop market as people switch to tablets as their primary access device.
Edit: I do not work for this company and have not used their product.
Another opportunity is for academic classes to teach iOS Development. It's cost prohibitive right now, but it's something to look into to.
The problem is that I don't see the business being one that has long term clients. If anyone is developing for more than 4 months, they'd probably have obtained a machine by then.
What is the "2-Hour Daily Minimum" on the weekly plan or the "3-Hour Daily Minimum" on the monthly plan? Does the customer not have it for the full week or month?
(edit) Also, it seems there might be an issue with using their Macs for developing commercial software. Who knows where the contents of these Macs will end up being copied or backed up.
> Am I renting a real Mac?
> Absolutely! We use only authentic Mac computers made by Apple. We do not use any virtualization or sandbox technology to synthesize the Mac experience.
the important bit, though: after signing up i have to open a support ticket to get started? that's where you lost me.
This is the perfect kind of solution (albeit poor pricing plan) that would allow me to give things a try before I commit to buying the hardware.
I see this kind of service targeted at folks like myself who are interested in making the leap and obviously not for people who might consider themselves Mac Developers (tm).
Edit: Well a Mac Mini is $600 (with no monitor), but still... if you could rent a virtual Mac for $20/month that's still over two years before you're money ahead.
Here in central Europe, a Mac Mini goes for 1200$ without a monitor, and that's in the cheapest online store (where you will have to wait for over a week for it, as they do not have them in stock).
Also, since there are no Apple stores, repairs and warranty in general is a pain to deal with.
Considering these circumstances, a "Mac in a cloud" seems appealing, especially if you need it just as a testbed.
That's about 850USD. Where are you being charged $1200?