Despite the fact that Apple has yet to say one word officially about launching a streaming music service, that hasn’t stopped rumors from popping up every time you turn around. From tales of intense negotiations going on with all of the major music labels to purchasing the iCloud domain name, it certainly seems like the mythical service is coming together.
There is one piece of the puzzle that started the first rumors all the way back in Dec. 2009, and that was when Apple purchased the Lala music service for $80 million dollars. The assumption at that time was that was going to be turned into Apple’s streaming music service, but the company kept operating as it had been until it was shut down on May 31st, 2010, and nothing has been heard of it since.
The legacy of Lala, however, may be a very important aspect of the new iCloud service. According to a report from Businessweek, three people briefed on the matter have said that iCloud will be able to scan your iTunes library to see what songs you have, and then will mirror all of that content on your account without you having a need to upload your files. It will also reportedly replace any low quality tracks you have with higher quality versions that the company already has on its servers. For those that used Lala, this may sound very familiar as this is what the service did for you when you would first sign up. They had a cap of 5,000 songs, but after a very quick scan of your hard drive, those selected songs were available for you to play on any Web browser.
Apparently this has been a major part of the negotiations with the music labels – something Lala failed to do in its early days – and has been part of what has made this such a slow process to get iCloud launched. This could also be the part of the formula that immediately launches Apple into the lead spot for these types of streaming services.
While Amazon quickly got its Cloud Player service out into the market in a move many suspected was to just beat Apple to the punch, users have quickly lost interest due to the amount of work needed to get their content on to the servers. As someone who immediately started using the service the day it launched, I can tell you I lost interest after about five days of uploading albums to it and I had only finished five artists. The thought of how long it was going to take me to finish getting to just the 20GB of storage, let alone my entire collection of well over 100GB quickly made me throw in the towel.
If Apple can pull this off, and there is no reason to think they can’t since they bought a proven technology, people will quickly be going, “Amazon-Cloud-A-What?” The only potential drawback is that it definitely looks like it’s going to cost to use iCloud with some suspecting that it will become part of the $99 a year MobileMe subscription plan. While Amazon is free up to 5GB, if you’re someone with a large music collection like myself, you’ll gladly plunk down that subscription fee to not have to do all the work and have access to music you from pretty much anywhere at any time.
As we said, Apple has still yet to even officially acknowledge this product exists, but don’t be too surprised if something is said at the upcoming Apple WWDC event in June.
What do you think? Would you pay a subscription fee to have your music collection seamlessly appear on the Web to be played anywhere you want?