updated 09:40 am EDT, Tue August 23, 2011
First example of fully-streamed in-store content
iTunes users can, for the first time, stream an entire album through the iTunes Store. The stream is a preview of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' I'm With You, which can only be preordered at the moment with the exception of one single. The complete download will unlock on August 30th.
While Apple has for years allowed people to stream samples of songs and videos, I'm With You represents Apple's first foray into streaming complete content through iTunes. The company only recently extended song samples from 30 to 90 seconds. It has, however, been making gradual pushes in terms of streaming, apparently linked to its purchase of Lala; iTunes Preview, the web-based mirror of the iTunes Store, gained song samples just a month after the Lala buyout.
Rumors have suggested that Apple's long-term goal is to enable streaming of anything a person has bought through iTunes, and/or to enable subscriptions. One step forward in this regard was taken indirectly, through the Apple TV. Owners of the set-top can now stream TV episodes purchased through iTunes, getting around the obstacles of limited local storage and even the need for a nearby computer to hold a video library.