RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky told clients in a note — as reported by “AppleInsider” (http://www.appleinsider.com) that he expects Apple’s upcoming iCloud service as more than just a digital “locker” service that will store users’ file. He thinks the “cloud” based service will let the company target iPhones at 5.1 billion handset users worldwide, compared to 1.3 billion computer users.

Abramsky envisions a new version of iOS (version 5, perhaps, which Apple will discuss at next week’s Worldwide Developer Conference) where users no longer need to tether to a machine to upgrade their software, making the addressable market much larger. The analyst also said that iCloud could allow Apple to exploit three competitive advantages: licensing and digital rights management, consumer friendliness, and an installed base of more than 200 million iOS devices, plus iTunes users.

“Apple’s licensing relationships and ‘controlled’ platform may appeal to studios/publishers seeking to minimize piracy, while protecting their economics in a hosted model,” Abramsky told investors. “iCloud may also be differentiated via Apple’s trademark user experience for convenience, simplicity, and discoverability. iCloud APIs may in time extend to developers.”