A big part of today's show will be the showman. Tech has no bigger master of ceremonies than Steve Jobs. He's the inspiring and irreplaceable force behind Apple's success, and without him, the company's future is far less certain. That's why each public appearance matters so much.
Apple has finally gotten comfortable enough with network-based services to put its name on it.The iCloud promises to be the music streaming song locker that iTunes has always lacked. Good bye MobileMe, the $100-a-year email, contact and calendar syncing service; hello $$ iCloud, which promises access to all your files on all your Mac devices. The speculation has been that Apple may charge $25 a year for the service. There have also been reports that Apple will shell out as much as $150 million in upfront payments to the record companies that agreed to the streaming music license. Pressure is on. Rivals like Google (GOOG - Get Report) and Amazon (AMZN) have already introduced their cloud streaming and storage plans; even Microsoft had a big "to the cloud" marketing campaign. Apple needs to show how iCloud gets it right. --Written by Scott Moritz in New York.
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