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Apple could be dumping Amazon’s Cloud, Morgan Stanley analyst predicts

Apple could be dumping Amazon’s Cloud, Morgan Stanley analyst predicts

Is Apple building datacentres to get out of the Cloud?

An analyst at Morgan Stanley reading the tea leaves of recent financial disclosures from Apple predicts that the company could be transitioning away from using Amazon Web Service’s Cloud, which if true could represent a blow to the leading IaaS Cloud vendor.

In its first quarter earnings call last week Apple executives noted plans to build three new datacentres in the next two years. Morgan Stanley analyst, Brian Nowak, says that could be a sign the company is looking to decrease its reliance on AWS’ Cloud.

Nowak predicts that Apple spends upwards of $US1 billion annually on AWS, which is about 9 per cent of AWS' predicted 2016 revenue. “The loss of Apple’s +/- $US1bn annual spend could materially impact AWS’s revenue growth (and potential overall profitability),” Nowak writes in the note, which was published on Monday.

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Apple is increasing its capital expenditures 30 per cent this year to build out 2.5 million square feet of datacentre space, Nowak says. That includes a data “command center” in Arizona opening this year and datacentres in Ireland and Denmark to power iCloud, iTunes and the App Store next year.

“We believe this build is a signal that Apple is increasingly likely to move away from AWS in the next 18 to 24 months,” Nowak wrote in a note with colleagues. Nowak predicts that Apple’s datacentre build out represents about 40 per cent of the size of Amazon’s data center footprint of 6.7 million square feet.

Neither company has ever publicly acknowledged they do business together but in 2011 reports surfaced that Apple uses AWS, and perhaps even Microsoft Azure, for its iCloud and iTunes services.

There are many reasons Apple could be looking to transition away from using AWS, if Nowak’s predictions are true. The two companies are increasingly competing with one another across a variety of industries. Amazon has its own iTunes competitor in Prime Video and its own consumer-grade cloud storage service in Cloud Drive.

There could be technical reasons for Apple to move away from AWS too. At a certain scale, Apple could believe that it can run its own data centers more efficiently than using the public cloud. Data sovereignty issues could be influencing the decision as well.

Nowak notes that the impact of Apple building its own data centers on AWS is unknown. It’s unclear how much of its cloud usage, if any, Apple will be moving into its own datacentres.

AWS’s growth could absorb some of the loss of a major customer too, if that were to happen. AWS reported last week that its revenue grew 69 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2015 compared to a year earlier. AWS said it’s on a $US10 billion annual revenue run rate. Morgan Stanley predicts the overall IaaS spending will reach $US240 billion.

Amazon Web Services had no comment.


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