Apple Prepares Cloud Service

Apple is fixing to follow Amazon and Pioneer into the cloud. Music industry sources say Apple is lining up support to launch a new service that would store music online.

What would make Apple's service different than the other two? It would license the music, instead of leaving the legal details of acquisition to the user. Hence the music industry consultations.

c|net reports that Apple initially persuaded EMI and Warner to sign on. Sony soon followed. At presstime that left only Universal standing between Apple and big-four-label unanimity.

How would Apple's cloud service work? We're guessing it would integrate existing Apple programs and technologies such as iTunes for music management and purchase as well as iOS and its related devices, the iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Throw in a little AirPlay action and this could be an interesting service.

Business Week claims to have gotten these details: The iCloud (if that proves to be its name) will scan iTunes on a user's hard drive, mirroring your collection online. It will not discriminate: It will pick up material downloaded legally, downloaded illegally, or ripped from CDs. Anything ripped in a low-quality format may be replaced by a high-quality format. Subscription fees would generate revenue for the music industry and presumably for Apple.

c|net's Steven Munsil throws in this tidbit: "Meanwhile, an Apple patent application released this morning offers clues to features Apple might add to iTunes and iOS to make entire music libraries take up less space on mobile devices with limited storage. The application details a system in which music clips from a user's library are stored locally on a device. When combined with an infrastructure that can fetch the rest of a song once it starts being played, the system would provide users with a seamless music listening experience of their entire library, even without having it on the device."

We've tried Google's service to store some paid downloads we'd hate to lose. The interface is a little unwieldy and tracks drip onto the cloud at a snail's pace. We've signed up for email notifications to join Google's beta service but have yet to get in and try it.

See c|net for original and followup stories. Also see Business Week.

theo's picture

This makes sense and the one item I would add is having the cloudj service accessible from AppleTV. The new apple TV is great but the lack of a music library natively is a bit of a drawback. I can see the cloud service being an instant stream via AirPlay and available to AppleTv and any iOS device. There is real value in having your entire library available anywhere you are with Internet access. And then with cloud sync the possibilities and potential are endless.

I stream my AppleTV through my home theater so such a solution is very appealing to me.