Details emerge on Apple's iCloud strategy

Details emerge on Apple's iCloud strategy

Summary: Apple's new service will reportedly identify the music already in your iTunes library and unlock a cloud-based version that can be streamed to your device. But will it offer subscriptions too?

SHARE:
TOPICS: Apple, CXO, Hardware, Mobility
26

Businessweek has posted some juicy details on Apple’s upcoming iCloud service which is rumored to launch at the WWDC keynote on June 6.

In the past two months, both Amazon and Google have taken the wraps off competing cloud music services to mixed reviews – and sans cooperation from the labels.

Apple's new service, not surprisingly, will be based on the Lala.com model -- which identifies the music already in your iTunes library and unlocks a cloud-based version that can be streamed to your device.

The difference? You don't have to upload your catalog. I've been testing Amazon Cloud Drive and Google Music and both suffer from the same problem -- long initial uploads of your music catalog. In fact, I'm on day three of uploading my music to gMusic and Music Manager has barely uploaded half of my 13,000 tracks (and that's with my MBP running 24/7).

The big news about iCould is that Apple has reached agreements with three of the four major music labels and is close to a deal with the fourth, Universal Music according to Businessweek sources. In exchange for a princely royalty the labels have agreed to allow Apple to simply fingerprint songs and unlock them on the cloud. Saving the arduous upload process.

Another wrinkle to Apple's unreleased music service, according to BW, is that if Apple has a higher resolution version of your track on its servers, you'll get to listen to that, instead of your more-compressed version.

Not mentioned in the latest round of rumblings is Apple's oft-rumored music subscription service. It stands to reason that if Apple negotiated a deal with the labels to allow "fingerprint unlocking" of cloud music, that it could have negotiated a streaming subscription deal too.

Since the labels probably make little incremental revenue by streaming your music back to you (locker), I'm sure that they're eager to cash in on this new, previously unrealized Apple revenue stream by selling music subscriptions too.

Will iCloud be locker-only? Or subscriptions too?

Topics: Apple, CXO, Hardware, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Talkback

26 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

    dude your internet connection sucks...7000 songs in one night
    mcrommert
  • Wow!

    Wow, this is SO much better than, say, the Zune Pass service where I can stream [b]all[/b] of the music on the service, not just the ones I "own". Sign me up!
    Qbt
    • Reading is fundamental

      @Qbt
      Exactly why Jason is asking if a subscription model might be in works as well.
      <i>Not mentioned in the latest round of rumblings is Apple?s oft-rumored music subscription service. It stands to reason that if Apple negotiated a deal with the labels to allow ?fingerprint unlocking? of cloud music, that it could have negotiated a streaming subscription deal too.</i>

      But of course, actually reading the entire article wouldn't serve your purposes now, would it?
      use_what_works_4_U
    • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

      @Qbt You DO understand that this is a cloud storage service with the luxury of not having to upload the songs one already owns and is not a music subscription service, right? Oh wait, that would mean you would have actually read and comprehended the entire article instead of just looking at the headline and jumping to whatever anti-Apple conclusion pops into your little head.
      athynz
      • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

        @athynz

        Depends on whether this will be a free service or a cheap service.
        [i]Since the labels probably make [b]little[/b] incremental revenue by streaming your music back to you[/i]

        "Little" I assume comes from me (or maybe Apple swallows the cost?)
        If its free then thats great. If you have to pay a monthly cloud fee to get your "free" streaming service then that might as well be a subscription.
        I wasn't able to figure this out from the article. And as far as I'm concerned there is no way in hell I will be paying a monthly fee to listen to my music that I already paid for.

        Plus there is the data capping in some plans which will affect how much music you can stream per month.
        The devil is in the details.
        Tigertank
      • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

        @athynz <br><br>You DO understand that as a Zune Pass subscriber I <i>already</i> have the "luxury" of never having to "upload" anything at all, right? I never have to pretend that I actually "own" any of the songs so I just don't have to deal with any of this. At all.<br><br>The point is I don't need any additional cloud service to stream millions of songs to my devices. It is because the pay-per-song model is so limited that you guys need to deal with this in the first place, inluding still being stuck with "previews" of songs. I don't have to deal with that - I see a song, I click play - the <i>whole</i> song plays at its <i>full</i> quality.<br><br>So I guess I'm at a loss of what exactly it is that I supposedly missed with this magical new innovative service from Apple.</i>
        Qbt
      • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

        @Qbt

        Not only are you unable to comprehend this article, when it's explained to you you're still not getting it. These cloud 'locker' services are not the same as subscription music services. So not sure why you brought it up in the first place. Amazon, Google, Apple are offering users the option of accessing their <b>own</b> music collection in the cloud, anywhere, anytime. Subscription music is paying monthly rent forever on music that's <b>not</b> your own. You stop paying for any reason and that music, playlist etc suddenly vanishes from your device, computer.

        Besides there's plenty of subscription services on the iOS platform for users to choose if they want to rent music. Rhapsody, Napster, Mog, RDio, and outside the US Spodify.
        dave95.
      • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

        @QBT<br><br><i>It is because the pay-per-song model is so limited that you guys need to deal with this in the first place, inluding still being stuck with "previews" of songs.</i><br><br>Limited is correct, exactly the way we want it. I already have thousands songs in my collection and sometimes months and months go by between new purchases. (i.e. I haven't purchased a new track since last fall) Why pay a fee every month for no new music? It makes no sense to me.<br><br>Also, How is anyone stuck with a preview? I don't even know what that means. Do you know what a preview is?! You don't even need to listen to it before downloading if you don't want. however, If you are looking for a song and you aren't 100% sure of the title, previewing it first will identify it. It sounds like you have never even tried itunes.
        Tigertank
      • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

        @dave95

        No, it is you that can't comprehend what I am saying, so I'll say it again:

        With a subscription service, you [i]don't need[/i] any of this additional cloud garbage. Period. The convenience is such that there is no need to add a cloud service to host the music that you pretend to "own", since you already have full access to each and every song the service has in its database. You can either stream it from the original service, or you can download it to your devices and play them offline. An example is what is known as "Channels". Things like "Top 40 Hits" (there are over a hundred such "Channels" in every genre imaginable). It is like a playlist, except is it "live" in the sense that every time you sync your device, it will update this playlist with new music, and you don't even have to pretend to "own" any of the songs. Try that on an iPod.

        And BTW, when you "stop paying", the music doesn't just vanish (common misconception). It will simply stop playing if you haven't synced in in over a month. If you try to play it, it tells you you first need to sync. If you then pay and sync again, it magically starts playing again. Nothing was ever deleted. BTW, if you really can't pay the monthly, you have bigger problems anyway.

        Oh, and did you really think you actually "own" the songs you "bought"? Think again. Go read the fine print. All you bought was the "rights" to play the song in certain scenarios. If you don't believe me, try to sell that song as if it was your own. I mean, you "own" it, right? On the other hand, as a music subscriber, I never have to pretend to own anything, I never have to worry about backups, I never have to worry about having to listen to crippled preview clips to decide whether I want to buy and then "own" the song. Ever.

        So yes, bringing up music subscription is very relevant to this discussion, as it point out how you guys once again think Apple is giving you a wonderful service when in fact it is pretty anemic.

        BTW I own an iPhone, so I have full choice between iTunes and Zune Pass, and I choose Zune Pass hands down every single time. Have you tried both?
        Qbt
      • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

        @Qbt

        For the record, I have no philosophical argument against the a subscription service; just practical reasons that work for me and many, many others. If a subscription service works for you then great but judging by its adoption rate, and opinions against it, it is not appropriate for everyone.

        [i]With a subscription service, you don't need any of this additional cloud garbage. Period. The convenience is such that there is no need to add a cloud service to host the music that you pretend to "own", since you already have full access to each and every song the service has in its database"[/i]

        Again, if you already "own" those songs then you don't need to pay every single month to listen to it. That is the point. I, like many already have thousands upon thousands of songs in my collection. I can listen to them for the rest of my life without paying a corporation rent for the privilege.

        [i]And BTW, when you "stop paying", the music doesn't just vanish (common misconception). It will simply stop playing if you haven't synced in in over a month. If you try to play it, it tells you you first need to sync. If you then pay and sync again, it magically starts playing again. Nothing was ever deleted. BTW, if you really can't pay the monthly, you have bigger problems anyway.[/i]

        OK, so the playlist format remains, but you can't listen to it if you don't pay again. That is the bigger point here: The assumption is that you will be using the Zune subscription plan for the remainder of your life. What if something better comes along? You migrate to that and all your music actually does disappear. Even more to the point, Zune has been a spectacular failure for Microsoft. It peaked at 10% market penetration and has since slipped to 2% I don't know if [b]I[/b] would be as confident in MS's ability to support a losing platform for the rest of my life.

        [i]Oh, and did you really think you actually "own" the songs you "bought"? Think again. Go read the fine print. All you bought was the "rights" to play the song in certain scenarios.[/i]

        I have never heard [b]anybody[/b] ever claim that they owned the legal rights to a song when they purchased the MP3. Never. Ever. Ever. And I don't believe you have either. However, you do have the right to "listen" to it without paying rent for the rest of your life. Can't do that on a subscription service.

        [i]On the other hand, as a music subscriber, I never have to pretend to own anything, I never have to worry about backups, I never have to worry about having to listen to crippled preview clips to decide whether I want to buy and then "own" the song. Ever.[/i]

        Neither does anybody else. This is the silliest claim I have ever heard.
        Nobody ever "pretends to own" the copyright to the song. Nobody.
        Nobody has to worry about backups because it is on record on itunes that you bought it and if you lose your copy you can download again for free.
        Nobody worries about listening to previews except you. This is a complete and utter red herring and you know it.

        [i]So yes, bringing up music subscription is very relevant to this discussion, as it point out how you guys once again think Apple is giving you a wonderful service when in fact it is pretty anemic.[/i]

        Apple gives us the service that we want to pay for and doesn't charge us for no-services-rendered as a subscription plan will for many (depending on how you choose to listen to music)

        [i]BTW I own an iPhone, so I have full choice between iTunes and Zune Pass, and I choose Zune Pass hands down every single time. Have you tried both? [/i]

        Good for you. You are Microsoft's target marketing demographic. Congratulations!
        Tigertank
      • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

        @Qbt Again - and I can't stress this enough - this cloud storage thing from Apple is NOT and I once again repeat for the slow class NOT a subscription service. The Zune service - from my understanding of it - IS indeed a subscription service. So with the Apple iCloud service (or whatever name they attach to it) unlocks music you already "own" (i.e. already have the rights to listen to the songs at anytime) - and THIS is the truly relevant part which you keep on wanting to ignore - and with the Apple service (which is - and I again feel the need to stress this point to you - a cloud STORAGE service and NOT a subscription service like the Zune) one does not have to upload songs to a cloud but instead unlocks the songs one already has rights to. So once again you read and still do not comprehend.

        @tigertank - If this is a free service it will be great, I'm all for it, and I'm in. If not (and this is the more likely course as it is Apple after all) then I'll stick to using Pandora, Slacker, and the iPod function on my iPhone as I fully agree with you that paying for songs that I already paid for is not going to happen. Now if this Apple iCloud thing is also a subscription service like the Zune thing in addition to the cloud storage thing then I might reconsider my stance on the monthly fee thing. In either event I fortunately have a grandfathered "unlimited" data plan from AT&T so I'm good in theory there.
        athynz
      • @Qbt

        How do we know you're not the brightest bulb in the box? You're paying [i]Microsoft[/i] for streaming music.
        Champ_Kind
  • Hope it's like LALA.com

    I was using LALA for a long time and I loved it. Apple bought it/ shut it down during the beta testing of it's iPhone app. If it's just like LALA, I might just forgive apple for the shutdown of LALA.com
    45yoyos
  • &quot;wither&quot;?

    > wither subscriptions
    What the heck does this mean? Are subscriptions drooping, declining, becoming stale, decaying, contracting? This makes no sense.
    bmeacham98@...
  • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

    The correct word is "whither", not "wither." They have totally different meanings.
    bionicbub
  • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

    I don't have the bandwidth to stream the music that I already have on my hard drives. So I'll just keep listening to my music the old fashioned way.

    The only time I stream music is on my phone over 3G which I use Pandora because I don't want to hear the same crap every day.
    aclonedsmurf
  • So can they scan for pirated music?

    It will be interesting to see if Apple succeeds at protecting the user's privacy from the labels and RIAA.
    thofts
  • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

    All these past few months, I?ve been reading about the new craze namely the cloud. I don?t see any concerns about this power-hungry technology. The US of A are already and by far the first and bigger polluters in the world contributing thus to dramatic and catastrophic changes that already affect our lives (some islands in the pacific are actually drowning) and all we can think is how we?ll listen to our songs on our mobile devices, regardless of the consequences. The question is: do we really need this? Are we ready to sacrifice a big part of our ecosystem to use cloud services, stream our music or else. Just think how much power is required to download that amount of data on our devices and how this will be looked upon by future generations forced to live in a deprecated environment. I mean, is it really worth it?
    ∞Dilemma
    • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

      @ ???Dilemma

      Manufacturing and operating local storage devices also requires power. For your argument to work, you'd need some evidence that the total power costs of storing data in the cloud and streaming on demand are higher than the total costs of local storage (including manufacturing, packaging, distribution, storage, operation, etc.). It may be the case, but you can't just assume it is.

      A second point is that China overtook the US as the world's largest polluter about five years ago (in 2006), and China is where a lot of storage hardware is manufactured (especially for consumer electronics). Looking only at running costs without considering all the other costs gives you only a small part of the picture.
      WilErz
  • RE: Details on Apple's iCloud strategy emerge, wither subscriptions

    I want to know how one decides which of the 34,000 songs that one wants to listen to?
    wmwhiten