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Apple spends upwards of $30m a month on AWS during first quarter of 2019, report claims

According to US media reports, Apple is spending upwards of $30m a month on procuring cloud services from Amazon Web Services

Apple is reportedly spending upwards of $30m a month on Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) public cloud offerings, sources have told US media site CNBC.

The report claims the amount Apple spent on AWS during the first quarter of 2019 is up 10% on the previous year, and could – if current usage levels persist – result in the firm spending a total of $360m on procuring services from Amazon this year alone.

It is also further claimed in the report, by one of the sources quoted, that Apple has made a five-year commitment to spend “at least” $1.5bn with AWS.

The growing level of spend is attributed in the report to the fact smartphone sales are softening in the face of market saturation, prompting the iPhone maker to focus its efforts on making its own portfolio of consumer services a point of competitive difference for the firm.

Computer Weekly contacted Amazon and Apple for comment on this story, and had received no response at the time of publication.

While Apple is renowned for being notoriously secretive over its supplier engagements, the firm is known to operate a multi-cloud strategy, following reports in 2016 about its plans to use the Google Cloud Platform to underpin its iCloud storage service.

Much was made of the news at the time, with some industry commentators interpreting the revelation as a sign Apple might be looking to reduce its reliance on the AWS and Microsoft Azure public cloud platforms.

The CNBC report suggests the converse is true where Apple’s use of AWS is concerned, but media reports from February 2018 suggested the Cupertino tech giant may have cut ties with Microsoft, based on an official iOS Security Guide document circulating at the time.

Whereas earlier versions of the guide made reference to Microsoft Azure, media reports in early 2018 picked up on the fact the document now stated that iCloud stores encrypted, non-identifying user data “using third party storage services, such as [Amazon] S3 and Google Cloud Platform.”

The fact the firm has to rely on Amazon and Google, which both compete with Apple on several fronts, could be attributed to issues Apple has run into in recent years in its attempts to increase its datacentre footprint – particularly in Europe.

As previously and recently reported by Computer Weekly, the firm has run into difficulties when trying to build datacentres both in Ireland and Denmark to serve the needs of its European customers.

The firm ended up abandoning its bid to build a server farm in Athenry, County Galway, in May 2018, while earlier this month details emerged in the Danish press that work on its facility near Foulum, Denmark, had ceased due to a contractor dispute.

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