Forecast: iCloud

Looks like Apple's finally going to let us know what its long-in-the-works cloud storage/music locker/content delivery service is going to look like. Next Monday's Worldwide Developer Conference keynote will feature some big announcements - iOS 5, OSX Lion - but we're very curious to see what Steve Jobs will have to say about his company's entry into the cloud.

It looks as if in their recent round of dealmaking with the major labels Apple's been able to resolve the major problem facing cloud storage and delivery of music: the mirroring of user collections (scanned via technology acquired along with the Lala streaming service) by licensed centralized files stored on Apple's own servers.

Amazon and Google used their significant scale to sidestep this issue, claiming that since they are doing nothing more than letting subscribers store and retrieve their own files, no license is necessary. Apple's move is a bolder one - subscribers will likely have to accept iTunes in some way analyzing the legal status of their music collections - but given Apple's immense market clout, it may well define the future of cloud services.

- Michael Berk

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