Apple’s iCloud could help make digital instruction easier

Although those rivals have a head start, Apple is betting it can make the concept of online storage more appealing and convenient. iCloud replaces a failed syncing service called MobileMe, which Jobs said “was not our finest hour.”

It will take a few more months to find out if Apple is taking the next step in the evolution of digital music and internet storage. iTunes Match and most other iCloud features won’t be available until the fall, when Apple plans to release iOS 5.

Apple also announced it will release the next version of its operating system for Mac computers, called Lion, next month. A preview of that software program, which will cost $29.99, was handled by two other Apple executives.

Lion will give Apple a jump on Microsoft Corp., which recently said it won’t release the next version of its Windows operating system until next year.

Unlike during a six-month leave in 2009, Jobs, 56, hasn’t said when he is coming back to work.

The uncertainty makes his every appearance even more of a spectacle, because people don’t know if it will be the last time they will see one of the world’s most influential CEOs and cultural taste-makers.

Looking as frail as he did in his last appearance in March, Jobs didn’t discuss his health on June 6.

That wasn’t unusual; he has consistently treated his health as a personal matter and insisted that Apple’s board remain mum, too, much to the frustration of some shareholders who believe they deserve to know more about the condition of the man whose vision drives a company with a $312 billion market value.

That’s about $300 billion more than when Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, became the company’s CEO in 1997.

Apple, though, tried to strike an optimistic note by playing the James Brown song “I Feel Good” as a prelude to Jobs’ appearance. When the song concluded, Jobs stepped onstage to a standing ovation and a “We love you” shout from one man in the audience. Jobs smiled and said the warm reception “helps.”