for crying out loud people, these commends all sound like the ravings of paranoid lunatics.
As far as i can see, apple aren't trying to get rid of local storage, they're not trying to be gatekeepers of your data, they're not trying to insist that all your data is always downloaded and rented back to you, they're not shafting anyone etcetc. I don't know for sure, but I don't really think that steve is a member of SPECTRE either.
Apple make products for people to buy. if they don't make what people want, they people don't buy them (look at mobileme as an example). They seem to have a rough "master plan" of what they think will work for people and how they'll get there, and often (but nto always) they're right. this can e seen by the obscene amounts of cash they are making. they're not forcing it out of people's hands you know. people are willingly paying money for goods they think are worth the price.
From what I can see, this icloud stuff is a way to try and get multiple devices (iphone, ipod, ipad, mac, pc) in sync for certain types of data without keep having to plug stuff into each other. lets face it, this is part of the utopian future dream many seem to have, and it tends to fit in with apple's general ethos of trying to make things "just work as you think they ought to".
However I'm sure you won't be forced to use it if you don't want to, for one, enterprise users won't use it. but it's an option, and for most people, I imagine it's a damn good and useful option. taking a picture on an iphone and having it appear "auto-magically" in iphoto without plugging my iphone in? that's brilliant. hell, I want that for my nikon! (there's about 2 months of pics on there now, un-downloaded).
syncing contacts and calendars is all good stuff. using the icloud stuff to save and distribute app documents is good too, esp as it is extendable to other apps. should be very useful. means you could edit your wedding spreadsheet on your laptop at home, and then on your ipad an hour later at the hotel after the meeting with the manager. no messing about tcopying files across or manually keeping things in sync. this is good stuff.
the flipside is that you're trusting apple with data. that said, does apple have a history of data mining? I don't recall if ti does. I'd be mroe concerned with data being within the grasp of the american government. Will they provide any encryption? they've not given us enough info to know yet but honestly, for most people, I don't think they'll care either way. the usefulness will outweigh any perceived deficiency.
As for people being shafted, where? mobileme users? hardly. they've been given a free extension for a year, and that year as notice of termination of service. that's hardly being shafted. all the data they may have there is in standard formats that can be retreived and sent elsewhere and I'm sure that someone at an applestore will help you move your data if you ask them.
in the future could they upgrade icloud for a new OS and then prevent lion users connecting? of course they could, but I've not seen anything yet to imply that they would, or that if they did, they wouldn't give enough time for users to get their data off first.
come on guys, I know some people don't like apple gear, but there's no need to get quite so paranoid about it all.