Apple Takes Music to the Cloud

by Matt Klassen on May 20, 2011

Apple is taking music to the cloud. Twelve months ago I would have looked at that sentence and had no idea what it meant. Heck, I would guess that despite the constant barrage of commercials boasting user’s ability to take things ‘to the cloud,’ most of us probably still don’t know what it means. But don’t worry, I’ll explain it in greater detail after the break.

With that said, having already secured the lion’s share of the music market with its wildly successful iTunes music platform, CNET is reporting that Apple is once again revolutionizing the music market by signing agreements with all four major American music labels to offer the world’s first large scale legitimate cloud music service.

Although the innovative mobile device maker has lagged behind competitors Google and Amazon in developing cloud music technology, the fact that Apple has already signed music distribution deals with EMI and Warner Music and is putting the finishing touches on deals with Universal Music and Sony Music make it abundantly clear who the music industry thinks is going to ultimately win the race.

I’ll admit, watching commercials about cloud computing and technologies offers little in the way of actual explanation about what the technology actually does, but the process is relatively simple. “Cloud” has become the blanket term for the action of using a third-party’s servers for computing and data storage instead of one’s local PC. Having all your computer’s information on a third-party server then allows users to access that information from any Internet-enabled device, one of the key advertised features of cloud computing. Simple enough.

In regards to cloud music services, Apple is looking to transform its iTunes platform, whereby users’ music would now be stored on company servers, allowing users to access their music libraries from anywhere with any Web-connected device, instead of having to manually transfer your library to every device you would want music on.

While Apple is lagging behind Google and Amazon with such cloud music services, its clear that Apple is taking the time to do things right, signing agreements with all four major music labels, allowing it to offer various features unavailable on its competitors services due to licensing restrictions.

Unfortunately the CNET source offers little in the way of specifics regarding what these unique ‘features’ would be, other than the ability to have Apple automatically scan and upload your music libraries to the cloud, but I’m sure more information will be available come June 6th when Apple kicks off its annual Worldwide Developer’s Conference.

In addition to this, however, some interesting tidbits are being gleaned from a recent Apple patent application, titled, “Local Storage of a Portion of Streamed Media.”The patent covers locally storing portions or clips of songs on a music player, snippets that when played back would initiate the music device to “retrieve the remaining segments of the media item from the user’s media library as a media stream over a communications network.” Simply put, it seems that your iPod or iPhone will now only store short clips of each song, which when played would automatically initiate a connection with your cloud music locker via the Web to access the full-length versions.

But again, this remains mostly conjecture, as we await Apple’s official announcement surrounding its industry-backed cloud music service.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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