Details emerge on Apple's iCloud strategy

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?
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor on

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?

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