In an unusual move, Apple announced the topic of the keynote address at next week's Worldwide Developers Conference and the forecast is definitely cloudy.

In a press release, the company said Apple CEO Steve Jobs and a team of executives will kick off the conference by unveiling its next generation software. A core focus of the address will be iCloud, Apple’s upcoming cloud services offering.

Apple would not reveal further details about the iCloud service, but by sending out the advance tease, it has signaled it plans to become a serious competitor in the cloud arena. 

Much of the speculation around Apple’s cloud offering has focused on the likelihood of it being centered around iTunes, music and video. Recently such competitors as Amazon and Google have introduced services which essentially provide online repositories for consumers’ music and other files.

However, iCloud could also be an upgraded and expanded version of the company’s MobileMe service. The service allows users to store files, email, contacts, calendars and similar information online for a $99 annual fee.

It is expected whatever services Apple introduces with iCloud will largely be powered by a massive new data center in North Carolina. The $1 billion, 500,000 square-foot facility in Maiden was completed this spring.

Apple said it will also use the keynote to unveil Lion, the eighth major release of the Mac OS, as well as iOS 5, the next version of its mobile operating system, which powers the iPad, iPhone and iPod.


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