Next week, Apple is set to unveil a handful of new products and upgrades at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference. As of right now, they’ve announced that they will be presenting iOS 5 and OSX Lion. But they will also be unveiling iCloud, a service that is meant to compete with Amazon’s Cloud Player and Google Music, launched just a few weeks ago.
The rumor mill is grinding, and many people expect iCloud to allow users to upload their iTunes library to the cloud and be able to access it from anywhere—at work, on mobile devices, etc.—without the hassle of having to download specific albums and playlists to a handful of media devices. Looking at the media landscape, and the way that everything is moving to the cloud, it is no wonder that Apple is joining the cloud media revolution. It’s the next step in our on-demand-anytime-anywhere digital society.
Although there are no official details, many users hope that Apple’s service will allow users simply access their music and media files everywhere without having to upload individual files or bundles to the service—as Google Music and Amazon’s Cloud Player require. The main difference between those other players and Apple’s, is that Apple has struck deals with the major record labels that will allow them more flexibility, making Apple uniquely positioned to easily copy your current library to the cloud. In just a few minutes, Apple could scan your iTunes, and place any recognizable files in your personal cloud without ever having to upload anything.
A move like this by Apple could have huge ramifications for personal media devices. If the service is accessible in a mobile environment (on an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch) users could stop filling up their entire memory reserves with media and have more room for games and apps, helping expand the usefulness and reach of such devices.
Of course, one drawback to such a service is that the quality of your media could be limited by the strength of your signal. If you’re only getting 2 bars on your iPhone or you’re in a high-traffic city, your music may be glitchy and stop to buffer every few seconds. At that point you may wish you would have uploaded your music to your device manually.
Another huge drawback to iCloud would be if Apple limits use of the iCloud to tracks purchased solely on iTunes, which knowing Apple’s business model, will most likely be the case. Will users re-buy whole chunks of their music libraries through iTunes just to have storage in the cloud or will they defect to other services like Google Music or Amazon’s Cloud Drive?
More likely than not, Apple’s iCloud service will grow to become a huge, revolutionary hit. Considering Apple’s dominance of the online music industry, creating an easy-to-use service that would copy your media to the cloud automatically seems like a no-brainer and a win win for both Apple and audiophiles everywhere.