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Apple scaling back cloud-based music in favor of video

updated 08:05 am EDT, Tue August 3, 2010

Apple may have modest online music post-Lala

Apple's cloud-based iTunes services aren't likely to be as ambitious if launched this year and are switching to video, sources said late Monday. Major labels have been told that a 2010 plan would be "modest in scope" and wouldn't include storing music directly on Apple's servers. Previous rumors had hinted at more conventional streaming that would either use Apple's own copies of content or stream content from the user's own computer to an iPhone or similar device.

Instead, CNET was told that the former Lala team is working on an "undisclosed video feature." What that would entail isn't stated, but Apple executives including Internet lead Eddy Cue weren't clear on what was asked of the acquired team for some time. One of the four key executives hired on in the takeover has reportedly already left.

The new, more video-centric strategy is likely to focus around the rumored redesigned Apple TV. With only 16GB of built-in storage, most movies and TV shows would have to stream, either over the local network or from iTunes. Apple's North Carolina data center due by the end of the year may play a role as it could provide the large amounts of bandwidth and clustered processor performance needed to push up to 1080p. The location is already nicknamed The Orchard by some at Apple.

Both music and video services may be important to Apple as its mobile rival Google may launch Google Music by November, offering both downloadable tracks and remote streaming to Android phones. YouTube also has a young rental service, but it lacks true mobile support and doesn't have the major content deals already in place at iTunes. Google isn't considered a large threat to Apple at present in either area, but music labels in particular have been known to give special favors to Amazon and other stores to pressure Apple into giving more favorable terms.

by MacNN Staff



  1. MisterMe

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In other words, you should ...

    ... forget about our old rumor and believe our new rumor instead. Except that our new rumors makes no sense. The limitation on cloud-based computing is the width of the pipe, not the storage capacity of the storage devices. However, switching from audio to video solves neither problem.

  1. rombe3jr

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Music Industry Blunder?

    Well if Apple can't throw iTunes on the cloud when their data center opens, you know the music industry is holding them up. But I am baffled by the Spotify holdout... as you know Spotify is HUGE in Europe, yet the music industry cannot simply allow it to launch in the US? Its the one company that could do some significant damage to iTunes market share. Spotify has the buzz... you know when music artists like Kanye West Tweet "is Spotify in the US yet?" it could emerge a formidable competitor. Meanwhile, Apple builds the infrastructure for a much better cloud service (their $1 Billion data center is hard for many to compete with). It is interesting that smaller competitors such as Rdio & MOG are really great options yet they are largely un-noticed right now. Its going to take a heavyweight such as Google, Apple or Spotify to really kick this horse race off in the US. My iTunes is backed up to 50 CD's and counting... probably like a lot of people out there. Plus, I have to tediously plug in, drag and drop the songs I want from my computer to my mobile device. In an increasingly mobile world, that is unacceptable. One thing you can count on: music will go to the cloud some day.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: In other words

    Except that our new rumors makes no sense. The limitation on cloud-based computing is the width of the pipe, not the storage capacity of the storage devices. However, switching from audio to video solves neither problem.

    Bandwidth is a limitation, but it isn't a crushing limitation (not like it would be 10 years ago in the modem and DSL days).

    However, cloud audio never made sense. You can stick a large chunk of music on your portable device (iPhone/iPad/iPod). The only people who really would want a cloud-based server for music are those few who are into having their entire library with them. And most of them already have gigantic iPods to do just that.

    The problem with video is all about storage. You can only fit so many videos on your iPhone/iPod (even on your portable Mac, depending on drive size). There's more likelihood that people want access to their large video library than they would their music library. And with video, once you watch something, you'll likely not watch it again in the short term. So you can easily go through the content on your iPod/iPhone well before you would tire of the music on same said device.

    So I think a video cloud makes far more sense to a consumer than a music cloud. Esp. since, as most people here like to say, there's very little good music being produced these days!

    Of course, all this is under the large assumption this magical data center in North Carolina is about new cloud-based services, and not just some added east-coast data center for redundant hosting (a la akamai).

  1. WiseWeasel

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I had too much music to use these cloud services anyway. Just make with the ability to stream my own iTunes library from my home computer to my iPhone already. I've been stuck without a good solution since Simplify Music went down.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: Good

    Well, that would be best, wouldn't it.

    If only AirVideo worked with Audio (seriously, why doesn't it work with audio files?)

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