Monday, June 6, 2011

iCloud Details Unveiled, Music Beta Invites Go Out

There is so much shaking in the music cloud world right now, I'm not sure where to begin.

For one, we've finally got details on the long-awaited Apple cloud, or iCloud. Certain iCloud details were leaked a few days ago, but we're going to sit here awed anyway. Not really.

Watching live tweets from the announcement at WWDC was interesting because some of the initial reaction to it, especially from folks focusing on the music library angle, was "meh," in the vernacular of the web. iCloud is broader than just music storage. It's digital media storage that also integrates with apps like iCal and Mail in desktop and mobile form. It's also a bit more complex than just that, but here's the way Paste Magazine condensed it:

Cool, but not necessarily groundbreaking. Then came iTunes Match. iTunes Match will check your music library and upgrade it to 256kbps AAC files as if you'd bought it from the iTunes store. Paste Editor Josh Jackson saw some big implications from Match, Tweeting, "Apple essentially just monetized music piracy for the first time. Labels will presumably get a cut of yearly fees."

Meanwhile, the bitch slap award in technology goes to Music Beta by Google for sending out a round of invites in the middle of the Apple announcement. I believe the appropriate term here is "aw, snap." (I'd be really impressed if someone could get a comment from Google on that one. I'm sure it was "pre-scheduled" or something.)

While, according to CNET, "The [iCloud] will be made available with iOS 5 this fall," Music Beta is currently uploading my iTunes library.

Something smart: Music Beta gives you music packs to start off with based on your preferred genres, so while you're waiting to upload your cripplingly-large iTunes collection, you've got something to listen to from the get-go. Also, it's free music, even if it's only streaming. Woo.

As far as interface goes, it looks simple with nice big buttons. Nothing will be as pretty as iTunes, but Apple has got the market cornered on sleek and sexy tech, in my opinion.

How it compares to Amazon's Cloud Player? I guess we'll see. I like the Amazon Cloud Player. Somehow I consider it to be the underdog here, even though Amazon arguably has more of a reason for getting into this race than Google in terms of prior presence in the digital music realm.

What I see as being a disadvantage for Amazon is that both Google and Apple already have greater holds on people's lifestyles. Both can offer the consumer function as well as storage for documents and email etc. People are already running their lives through these systems, whether it's the cult of Mac or the all-knowing, somewhat invasive Google.

Ultimately, I think that Google and Apple will run along side each other. After all, no one said there has to be a winner... although if you want to purchase music, it'll have to be through Amazon, iTunes or where ever else you get your tunes, as record labels have yet to cooperate with Google.

Anyway, stay tuned for further updates as I get to mess around with Music Beta.


Anonymous said...

The biggest thing Amazon has going for it is their buying power. With the ability to lose about $3 million on the new GaGa album and chock it up to "promotional costs" and the ability to give away a song/app each day, they'll have a lead over services who don't include free offers or only include a pre-set package. Is that enough to gain a large market share once Google and Apple really get things going? Probably not, but for a generation that loves not paying for things, it is an advantage.

Erin C. said...

That is a really good point. Even looking at the way that Amazon MP3 markets, like their Twitter account... free or extremely cheap is addicting. Whenever they tweet that they have a 100+ for under $5, I'm thinking "God help me, I'm going to go broke."

I also think it's brilliant that if you buy from them, it doesn't count against your storage.