Earlier this month, ETCentric reported that Apple has been planning a cloud-based music locker service that will enable its customers to stream music to smartphones, tablets or computers. As progress continues regarding deals with the major music labels, the new service may launch sooner than originally reported — with rumors speculating possibly as soon as June 6 in San Francisco at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC 2011).
The Apple proposal is different from Amazon’s recent Cloud Drive rollout and Google’s Music locker service (the beta for which was announced at Google I/O). As reported, Apple is seeking paid licenses from the labels for its service (Amazon and Google launched their services without gaining such approval). Bloomberg reports that Apple has reached agreements with three of the major labels (Sony, EMI and Warner) — with Universal Music Group close to a deal.
By jumping the gun, Amazon and Google may have helped Apple position itself to take the lead in this arena. As TechCrunch reports: “So the labels, which for the better part of a decade now have been looking for someone, anyone to help counter Apple’s power in their business, is turning right back to Apple when they need help. And Apple will obviously gladly welcome them with open arms. After all, with these licenses, Apple will have secured the cloud music high ground despite being the last to launch. Think about it. With these agreements, Apple is likely going to be able to do the one thing that is absolutely crucial for cloud music to take off: offer library syncing without uploading.”
Plus, Apple has the benefit of an existing consumer base, with 200 million people who already have iTunes accounts. There has also been speculation that the cloud music service may be integrated with a revamped version of MobileMe, Apple’s subscription-based collection of online services and storage.
CNET raises two interesting points:
1. There’s no doubt who the top-four record companies are pulling for in the cloud music wars. They hope Apple’s service makes the other two guys look shabby by comparison. The thinking is that if Apple’s service eclipses those of its rivals, it will prompt Amazon and Google to pay the labels’ licensing rates.
2. What nobody has proven yet is whether consumers even want the cloud. CNET has reported that Apple is likely to charge a subscription fee eventually for its cloud service. Subscription music services, such as Rhapsody, have a spotty record at attracting audiences.
Related TechCrunch article: “Google And Amazon May Have Just Handed Apple The Keys To The Cloud Music Kingdom” (5/18/11)
Related Wall Street Journal article: “For a Song, Online Giants Offer Music in a Cloud” (5/19/11)
Related Patently Apple article: “Whoa! Apple Patent Confirms iTunes Cloud Media Services” (5/19/11)
Related CNET article: “Exclusive: Apple near cloud-music deals” (5/18/11)
Related TechCrunch article: “Without The Labels, Google’s Music Locker Service Will Look Like Apple’s Ugly Sibling. Again.” (5/9/11)