As Google and Apple go head-to-head, you definitely know that Apple is going to be looking at the clouds in 2011. The move would yet again bring Apple into direct competition with Google, which is due to launch its own cloud-based OS, named Chrome.

The most recent news of Apple applying and securing a patent for a network-boosted OS has made speculators believe Apple is going to launch a Cloud-based operating system for the Mac as Drew Heatly of Strategy Eye writes “Apple already allows users to boot their Macs from a network through its Netboot feature on the original Mac OS X Server, leading commentators to claim that the new patent must refer to a different technology. The move would yet again bring Apple into direct competition with Google, which is due to launch its own cloud-based OS, named Chrome.”

To further spark the speculations is two of Apple’s software engineers are the ones named in the patent as Heatly comments “Apple software engineers Keith Stattenfield and Cameron Birse are listed as the creators of the patent, which Apple originally filed in 2006. That patent was a continuation of a similar patent regarding the “technique for reliable network booting of an operating system to a client computer”, which was filed more than 10 years ago. Apple’s 500,000-square-foot data centre, currently under construction in North Carolina, could be used to support the OS. Commentators believe the patent could allow Apple to create a subscription-based cloud OS that gives it more control over its users.”