RUMOR: Apple’s iTunes cloud to be free at first, fee-based service later

“Don’t expect Apple’s cloud-music service to come free of charge, at least not forever,” Greg Sandoval reports for CNET.

“Music industry insiders told me that Apple has indicated it could offer the service free of charge initially but that company will eventually require a fee,” Sandoval reports. “Google is also expected to charge for a similar service.”

Sandoval reports, “Billboard writer Ed Christman reported last September that Google was considering a plan to charge $25 a year for a subscription for its cloud service. Last month, the blog Wayne’s World reported that Apple would charge $20 annually, but nobody I spoke with seems to know for sure what Apple may ask.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: iTools. We’re Day One members; since January 5, 2000 (we’ve been paying an annual fee since July 17, 2002 when it changed to .Mac, minus the 90 days of freeness granted by Apple following their MobileMess launch debacle).

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Fred Mertz” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
RUMOR: Apple’s new MobileMe to launch in April with $20 per year ‘music locker’ – March 26, 2011
RUMOR: Apple to debut new, free version of MobileMe in April – March 18, 2011
Report: Apple negotiating with music labels for unlimited usage of music downloads – March 4, 2011
Apple: North Carolina data center for iTunes and MobileMe, due in spring – February 23, 2011
RUMOR: Apple to make MobileMe free – May 7, 2010
Apple grants additional 60-day MobileMe subscription extension – August 18, 2008
Former Apple employee: Eddy Cue will fix MobileMe – August 07, 2008
Full text of Steve Jobs’ memo to MobileMe team – August 06, 2008
Steve Jobs says MobileMe launched too early, not up to Apple’s standards; puts Eddy Cue in charge – August 05, 2008
Apple’s MobileMe highlights problems endemic to cloud computing – July 28, 2008
Apple’s MobileMe Team apologizes to customers, gives users free 30-day extension – July 16, 2008


  1. I don’t see the music cartels agreeing to a streaming service at $25/year. That’s very little which goes to the cartel, and certainly not much to Apple for operating costs, etc.

    Build a multi-billion dollar server farm and only charge $25/year? That won’t even pay the electric bill.

  2. I have to laugh at all the people who kept insisting a revamped MobileMe would be free. Apple has a very clear and simple approach to customer relationships – customer pays Apple for product or services rendered.

    Nobody should be surprised that Apple will be continuing to charge for MobileMe (or whatever it becomes). iAds notwithstanding, Apple’s not in the business of selling their users to third parties – which is abundantly clear from their stance on subscriptions, for example.

  3. iTunes Cloud will be part of the next MobileMe service package and MobileMe customers will have to pay the same price also in the future, but they will get much more value.

  4. I still don’t care for a service like this. I want to but my music to download and have the file on my hard drive to do what I want with it. I don’t care to stream my music (or movies, TV, podcasts, etc.) from some “cloud” thing.

  5. Here’s my speculation about how this is going to work.

    Apple has kept VERY close track of every song I have ever purchased from the iTunes Store, from Day One. I am still surprised whenever I go to an album page at the iTunes Store and it says “purchased” next to a song, or that it offers to let me “complete the album” for regular price minus cost of whatever songs on it I previously purchased (through the iTunes Store). Any other store would just let you buy something again; it just goes to show that the iTunes Store is more of a value-added service for Apple’s hardware customers, not a profit center. It’s true purpose is to help drive hardware sales.

    Apple can take advantage of this carefully maintained database in a big way. Apple can make every songs you have ever purchased at the iTunes Store available for streaming (as long as a previously purchased song is still being sold). You don’t have to upload the song files (like with Amazon’s service for past Amazon purchases). If you PAID for it before, Apple knows it, and it is automatically available for streaming with no user action.

    So if there is a future device that streams (rather than stores) music, it’s all there. If you want to stream music to a computer or device that does not have it stored locally, it’s all there, accessible through a new version of iTunes (and iPod app in iOS).

    iTunes Store customers can stream all previously purchased songs, and all future song purchases, at no additional cost. So that’s the “free” part, but there is no convenient “iDisk” type access to online storage space.

    Customers can also pay for “full” MobileMe membership and have iDisk storage of varying capacity. Using that new version of iTunes, you can upload all or some of your locally stored music files (including songs you ripped from CD or purchased from Amazon) “to the cloud,” and those files take up space on your iDisk. And those songs will also become available for streaming.

  6. Since Apple is stop selling MobileMe, at least the box set, and the data center moves iTunes to the cloud. Does this mean we won’t have iTunes in our local Libraries on our computers or however that works? Will what I have now when I open iTunes disappear and I have to join the cloud to get access to my purchases and then Apple will revamp it’s MobileMe to the cloud as well and combine all the features to eventually charge a rate of some sort? I’ll miss the ability to choose whether or not I want MobileMe and to pay for it and to get at my iTunes stuff and not have to pay for it.

    Anybody think this is what is in store or what? Opinions anyone?

    1. you have a point.

      Personally, I dont buy music from iTunes etc.
      had pretty much the same music “library” for years… No way in Hell would i give up not having the actual files on my computer. (or on DVD backups in my case)

      Imagine what would happen when someone goes over their monthly bandwidth limit on their phone etc. no more music/etc till next billing cycle.

      Thats why i love my iPod.

    2. My opinion… The iTunes Store continues to sell songs as it does now, and have you download a copy of song. Apple is not stupid and will not mess with that very successful formula.

      However, as another value-added service to benefit its hardware customers (and further distance Apple from the competition), Apple “collectively stores” any purchased song “in the cloud” for streaming access. Apple knows in great detail what every iTunes Store account has purchased, and therefore knows exactly what songs each customer is allowed to stream. This database goes all the way back to Day One of the iTunes (Music) Store, so if the music labels agree, Apple can instantly make streaming access available for EVERY song a customer has EVER purchased through iTunes.

      A purchased song is not “individually” stored (one song file per customer). It is “collectively” stored for access by all customers. Therefore, it is very efficient in terms of storage space usage, and no bandwidth is wasted having customer re-upload a song that came from iTunes Store. Apple just needs to know who has access to which song, and stream it on-demand, which is not that different from what happens now when someone purchases a song through iTunes and downloads it “on-demand.” So this part of the service should made available at no additional cost (again if the music labels agree). It is not technically “free” because you did pay for the song, but there is no recurring fee.

      The way Apple “breaks even” with this service is to offer online storage (MobileMe’s iDisk) for a monthly or yearly fee. This storage can be use as it is now, for email, web sites, online photos, backups, miscellaneous user files, etc. AND it can be used to store the users own music files (songs not obtained through iTunes Store) for streaming access. These songs files will be stored individually, NOT collectively, and require bandwidth for uploading (so it’s not very efficient). Hence, the recurring fee based on GBs of storage.

      iTunes (a new version of app) is used to upload the song files, after conversion (if needed) to a format and compression rate the streaming service supports. Once in iDisk, those “user provided” songs can be streamed through whatever methods Apple provides, along with the “user purchased” songs from iTunes Store. The user can also continue to use locally stored files to access the music.

  7. I don’t care;
    as long as I get itunes, can applescript it, and don’t have to be connected to the internet/wait for someones P.O.S. server to play my music, I’m fine.

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