Only the delusional consider MobileMe any serious form of cloud computing. But don't take my word for it. Look at the moves Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) making to bolster its presence in the market for on-demand computing.

According to separate press reports, Apple recently:

  • Hired Kevin Timmons away from Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT). Fools may remember him as one of the architects of Mr. Softy's mobile data center strategy. "Cloud computing, gone portable," I called it in covering the news last year.
  • Purchased 12 petabytes of data storage from EMC (NYSE: EMC) unit Isilon Systems for what appears to be a massive scale-out storage infrastructure presumably housed in one or more data centers for the purpose of storing downloadable iTunes files.

Granted, there's plenty of conjecture at work here. But thanks to Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), Apple's customers -- yours truly, in particular -- are becoming increasingly comfortable with streaming and browser-based apps. Both models could render downloads and installed software obsolete, and in the process threaten iTunes and the Mac OS. Not acting isn't an option.

The good news? CEO Steve Jobs knows this; it's why this summer's Worldwide Developer Conference is rumored to feature software -- the iOS-inspired Mac OS X Lion, in all likelihood. But hiring Timmons and loading up on storage is also probably just a first step.

Apple's cloud is coming, and it's not going to look anything like MobileMe. Do you agree? Disagree? Tell us what you think about MobileMe and other ways Apple could advance the art of cloud computing using the comments box below. You can also rate Apple in Motley Fool CAPS.

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Google and Microsoft are Motley Fool Inside Value picks. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Apple and Netflix are Motley Fool Stock Advisor selections. Motley Fool Options has recommended members create a bull call spread position in Apple and a diagonal call position in Microsoft. Motley Fool Alpha LLC owns shares of Microsoft and has purchased Netflix puts. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, EMC, Google, and Microsoft. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy is on cloud six today. Just working its way up the ladder is all.