For the second year in a row, Apple reduced prices for its expanded iCloud storage plans, putting costs in line with rivals like Google, Microsoft and Dropbox.
Although the Cupertino, Calif., company did not boost the amount of free storage space -- as Computerworld speculated it might -- and instead continued to provide just 5GB of iCloud space gratis, it bumped up the $0.99 per month plan from 20GB to 50GB, lowered the price of the 200GB plan by 25% to $2.99 monthly, and halved the 1TB plan's price to $9.99.
Apple also ditched last year's 500GB plan, which had cost $9.99 monthly.
The new prices are in line with the competition; in one case, Apple's was lower.
Google, for example, hands out 15GB of cloud-based Google Drive storage for free -- triple Apple's allowance -- and charges $1.99 monthly for 100GB and $9.99 each month for 1TB. The smaller-sized plan is 33% more per gigabyte than Apple's 200GB deal, and Google's 1TB plan is priced the same as Apple's.
Microsoft also gives away 15GB. Additional storage costs $1.99 monthly for 100GB -- the same price as Google Drive -- while 200GB runs $3.99 per month, 33% higher than Apple's same-sized plan.
Microsoft does not sell a separate 1TB OneDrive plan but instead directs customers to Office 365 Personal, the one-user subscription to the Office application suite. As part of the subscription, customers are given 1TB of OneDrive space. Office 365 Personal costs $6.99 monthly or $69.99 annually.
Office 365 Home can be an even better storage deal, depending on the number of users on the plan. That subscription, which costs $9.99 monthly or $99.99 annually, comes with 1TB each of up to five users. If an Office 365 Home subscription covered all five eligible users, the price per megabyte would be more than a third less than that of Office 365 Personal.
Another popular storage service, Dropbox, offers even less than Apple for free -- just 2GB -- and prices its sole plan of 1TB identically to Apple and Google.
The new iCloud pricing is available now from a Mac, iOS device or a Windows PC. On a Mac, users must select "Preferences" from the Apple menu, click the iCloud icon, click the "Manage" button, then the "Buy More Storage" button.