apple changes music again

apple cloud

Here’s what i said in December 2010… “It’s in Apple’s best interests to give people the option of a cloud based music service. The day will come when music moves to the clouds, just like everything else. I don’t think we’re ready for it yet, i don’t think the technology is mature enough, but if you look at the time span between vinyl, tape, cd, mp3, ipod it’s getting narrower and narrower as times goes on…”

Today, Apple revealed their new iCloud service (officially). We won’t get it until Autumn but we now know all the details. Let me explain using an example how it works (for music)…

  • Let’s say i have 10,000 songs on file.
  • That’s a hell of a lot of data and would take me forever to upload somewhere (if each song is 5mb that’s 50GB of data i’d have to upload).
  • For $25/year, apple allow me to store that music on their servers (in the cloud) which means i can use it on multiple devices (i.e. iphone, ipod, ipad, PC / Mac). Meh… it’s still hassle initially because of that massive upload size.
  • Here’s the dealbreaker…
  • They will simply run a search on their systems for music that matches your own offline collection. If a match is found, not only will you ‘get’ that song on your own cloud service (without having to upload it), it’ll be of high quality (256kbps and DRM-free).
  • So if you’ve a massive pirated collection of music, you now get it all legal and free for the small price of $25/year.

So in a way, Apple have found a way of doing what nobody else has done so far – making money from pirated music. This is why Apple dominate music… nobody else thinks like that. Will iCloud for music work? I’m guessing yes.

Let’s be clear about this, you don’t get an ‘all you can stream & download’ music package for $25 – you still have to pay for new songs you want to buy (legally), plus you’re limited to 20,000 songs.

BUFFET OPENCreative Commons License photo credit: mag3737

I’ve yet to read in to the finer detail but i’m guessing you can’t simply download a pirated album, store it offline, then sync or run a match on iCloud and get the legal version for nothing. If that’s the case, Apple could unwittingly increase piracy but then again they’re potentially getting $25 from people who would never have paid $25 were it not for this service, so maybe they’ll have the last laugh. If Apple can keep the record labels quiet, they’re laughing all the way to the bank yet again.

But Autumn is still a long way off and no doubt this won’t be the end of lawsuits and music piracy. Google’s Music service is free but it’s just not Apple. They’ve a lot of catching up to do. No iTunes, no iPods etc… getting users to switch from anything is tricky and i feel with this latest offering from Apple, it’s enough to fend off the increasing numbers of competitors invading this ‘music streaming’ space.

This is all US-only by the way, no word on europe, so i may be jumping the gun but if you play music and you’re signed up to eircom music hub, we7, sony qriosity or grooveshark etc… i’d imagine they could become the ‘mp3 player’ of tomorrow as presumably Apple will keep tweaking this service in years to come until they do to it what the iPod did to mp3 players a decade ago.

Those services will argue there’s still room for them and they’re still a cheaper option to buy music but behind closed doors i’d imagine they’ll be nervous and there’s something wrong if they’re not. With Google entering the ring not so long ago and now the giant that is Apple, the little guys are gonna get picked off one by one. Anyone with an ipod will now have no reason to use these services above iTunes and allowing for a transitional period, we should see a host of music streaming services die right about first quarter 2012. That’s assuming iCloud does indeed go live in Autumn, worldwide.

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