How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

Summary: Many tech insiders are speculating that Apple's iCloud could be a new cloud-based music streaming service. If true, here's how it could succeed.

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Apple has officially announced the unveiling of its new cloud computing product, iCloud, at WWDC 2011 on June 6. However, that's about as specific as it got. Many tech insiders are speculating that the development could be a new cloud-based music streaming service. If true, here's how it could succeed.

Cloud computing has proven to be one of the biggest tech trends of 2011, ranging from Amazon's new digital storage lockers to Intel's new AppUp hybrid cloud service for small businesses.

But digital music storage is where the action is. In the last few months, both Amazon and Google have rolled out cloud-based storage specifically for music. Amazon got rolling first with 5GB of free Cloud Drive space (which equates to approximately 2,000 songs) with the option of a 20GB paid upgrade. Users can then upload music from their PCs and Macs along with Amazon MP3 purchases to be played on Android devices via the cloud.

Google did things a bit differently. First of all, the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant gained notoriety for launching Google Music without the help (or approval) of the major music industry labels. The Goog also upped the free storage space starting point to 20,000 songs.

There's also Sony's Music Unlimited powered by Qriocity. Aside from the annoyingly long name, this one almost became the clear winner so far this year. However, given the PlayStation Network downtime in April and May, this service (along with several other PSN feature) suffered for several weeks, Music Unlimited became useless for awhile.

Personally, I still find Sony's entry into the cloud-based music business to be the most eye-catching and worth the price. Sony doesn't offer any free storage, but it does offer a catalog of six million songs with all the major labels on board at two affordable monthly subscription prices. Personally, I subscribed to the $9.99 monthly premium plan for entertaining at home and because of its attractive interface. (Every guest who comes over and sees it just oohs and ahhs.)

At this time, users can sync their personal libraries and playlists with Music Unlimited via PC (Mac is supposed to be coming soon) for playback on Sony's Internet-connected devices (i.e. PS3, Bravia HDTVs and Blu-ray players, the Google TV, etc.). Sony will finally get Music Unlimited onto mobile devices with the launch of the NGP gaming console and Xperia Play smartphone later this year.

With all of this taken into account, Apple has to do something better. Whatever it is will involve Lala, which Apple acquired in 2009 but has left stale ever since. Additionally, it will involve (or partially replace) MobileMe, which has never been beloved by even the most die-hard Macheads. Ping, another less-than-thrilling music product Apple unveiled last year, could be in the mix too, but Apple should steer clear of focusing too much on integrating this feature.

It's still early in the music cloud game, so Apple can do a few things to beat out all of the competition:

  1. Offer better free as well as paid subscription with more storage space for each option
  2. Expand cloud coverage to iOS devices as well as stationary Internet-connected devices (i.e. MacBooks, Apple TV)
  3. Make sure the top industry labels are on board
  4. Integrate iTunes for purchasing music to deliver straight to the cloud
  5. Ensure that the cloud is accessible via Wi-Fi and 3G (and 4G in the future)

There are some other lingering questions as to how this will all work, which will likely be addressed in detail by CEO Steve Jobs at the opening keynote of WWDC 2011 in San Francisco next week.

What would you like to see included in iCloud?

Topics: Hardware, Amazon, Apple, Google, Storage

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26 comments
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  • Microsoft and Nokia

    Where is Microsoft-Nokia colloboration in this arena? Microsoft has a zune social network and zune devices, also integrated with Win Phone7. Also with Azure platform it is a SaaS, PaaS provider. Is there any solution of Ms and Nokia on online customized cloud music storage? Thanks.
    tarikkranda
  • I suppose that whatever space songs/videos/apps that bought from AppStore/

    /iTunes Store will be excluded from calculations of available free space.
    DDERSSS
  • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

    What I want to know is, what happens to current paid MobileMe subscribers? I just paid 100 bucks just this past may to re-up my MobileMe subscription for another year. Do I get icloud services for the $$$ I just paid, or is apple gonna screw me?
    btracy713
    • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

      @btracy713
      Apple won't screw you don't worry, the service will carry over or they will give you free service...
      Hasam1991
    • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

      @btracy713
      Why on earth would you have paid for a service that you can get for free?
      Droid101
      • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

        @Droid101
        What service would that be, pray tell?
        DeusXMachina
  • MobileMe Redux

    Did you dust off an old MobileMe or .Mac article and do a search and replace? Quite frankly, based on the hype out there, there does not seem to be anything that differentiates it from the previous four generation of "cloud-bsed" solutions that Apple provided. We will have to wait and see just how "revolutionary" this iteration is.
    Your Non Advocate
    • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

      @facebook@...
      Correct, Leopard even has an icon to connect to iDisk... and this came out in 2007..
      Hasam1991
    • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

      @facebook@... Since they have not even made the official announcement of what it is how would you know? Could be something great or could be a flop but until we see what they are actually offering we don't know.
      non-biased
  • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

    Until I can download the music I uploaded, Cloud is useless to me
    Bodazapha
    • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

      @Bodazapha Granted this isn't for iGuys and iGals but Google's cloud services does allow you to download any music you've uploaded which I imagine is the reason the greedy record labels aren't onboard. The service is magical. ;)
      sirrx7
      • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

        @sirrx7 I don't think so Sir.

        ""Unfortunately, that means Google is missing a key part of the cloud music puzzle ? the ability to re-download songs from that server somewhere out in the cloud onto other devices, removing the need to physically transfer those files. There are a lot of legal ramifications associated with re-downloading, but at this point if there is any company that should be able to iron out the details, it?s Google. And we can use a number of other applications, like Dropbox, to do the same thing ? just not with mobile devices.""
        Bodazapha
  • DropBox

    I can think of several good iCloud options some of which are sorta already implemented in MobileMe.
    1. DropBox functionality
    2. SendIt fundtionality
    3. Why stop at music, how about uploading videos, e-books, apps, movies and TV show to access anywhere you might be, using any compatible device
    4. Mail, Calendar, Notes, To-Dos, Address sync across every device I own.--MobileMe still doesn't sync to-Dos with everything.
    5. Bring AppleTV to the party for some light-duty mail, internet, calendar, etc. It's just an iPod touch without a screen after all.
    Synthmeister
  • Message has been deleted.

    X41
    • Message has been deleted.

      DeusXMachina
    • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

      ZDNet: Neither of these posts broke your TOU so keep your hands off my posts.
      DeusXMachina
  • Hoping for something else....

    I'm wary of any solution from Sony or Apple because of hardware tie-in reasons. I just won't tie myself to a limited hardware ecosystem. I haven't gotten my invitation to Google music yet, but it seems right now to have the most potential. Amazon is good, but ultimately too pricey for large collections. I think Google will simply offer ad-supported storage for all of a user's files and a media player will be rolled into Apps. Media partnerships would help them drive adoption if they could offer media for sale, but ultimately I think they've taken the right tack. Once they get the media on their servers, they'll have leverage in negotiations. In the mean-time, why don't they buy Netflix?
    pkstephens
    • 99% of consumers don't care about HW tie-in

      @pkstephens They just want excellent UX and Apple gives it to them.
      MSFTWorshipper
  • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

    More of your uninformed subtle anti Apple ad hominem.

    "Additionally, it will involve (or partially replace) MobileMe, which has never been beloved by even the most die-hard Macheads".

    While I personally have no need for MobileMe, I suspect you have absolutely NO basis for this claim that MobileMe is not popular with many Mac users. I rather suspect, as is your wont, that you instead pulled that concept directly out of your ass. I know many that use it, and love it.

    But feel free to post ANY citations that indicate otherwise. You must have them, being that you are a responsible journalist and all.
    Good luck with that.
    DeusXMachina
    • RE: How iCloud could beat other cloud-based music services

      @DeusXMachina I obviously (though so many think they can) can't speak for the majority but I have a love/hate relationship with MobileMe as a Windows user. I love the service and the features it offers but hate the issues that I have had off and on over the past year due to software updates that didn't work. These issues tend to affect Windows users more often if not exclusively. One thing I will say is that Apple stepped up to make me a happy user even with the issues. Due to the issues I had coming up to renewal time they gave me a free year, can't beat that.
      non-biased