Apple to offer unparalleled ‘scan and match’ music service as part of iCloud

“Apple Inc. has reached deals with major recorded-music companies to help launch an online storage service, people familiar with the matter said, an offering called iCloud that Chief Executive Steve Jobs is expected to unveil Monday,” Yukari Iwatani Kane and Ethan Smith report for The Wall Street Journal.

“According to these people, Apple has signed deals with Warner Music Group Corp., Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Group Ltd. and expects to sign a fourth with Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group this week,” Kane and Smith report. “The agreements will let Apple offer an easy way for consumers to create and listen online to their entire music collections, without the time-consuming work of manually transferring or uploading songs.”

MacDailyNews Take: We will soon wonder how we lived without it.

“The iCloud service, these people said, is expected to be more robust than those recently introduced by Google and Amazon, which don’t have licensing deals with the major labels [and require the time-consuming work of manually transferring or uploading songs],” Kane and Smith report.

“The Cupertino, Calif., company said Tuesday that Mr. Jobs, despite being on medical leave since January, will headline its annual developers conference next Monday in San Francisco,” Kane and Smith report. “Mr. Jobs’s appearance at the conference may help ease concerns about his health. Mr. Jobs, who was diagnosed with a rare type of pancreatic cancer in 2004 and had a liver transplant two years ago, went on his second medical leave in two years in January.”

Kane and Smith report, “While Mr. Jobs has been more visible than the last time, speaking at the iPad 2 launch event in March and taking media interviews about Apple’s location-data gathering practices last month, his scheduled appearance had been considered by Apple watchers to be an important indicator of his health and involvement at Apple.”

Read more in the full article here.

34 Comments

  1. I can see apple preventing iPhones from actually STORING music in the near future. Some of us only have 500mb data plans and can’t stream music. I’d still rather STORE music on my iPhone than stream it. A lot of my work is out in rural Australia where there is no network at all.

    1. Do you think apple would really do such a douche bag thing? I don’t think so. You’ll have options to do what you can today AND have options to do the new stuff.

      Ask yourself, did they stop you from buying movies when Apple TV came out? No. You can buy and store movies on your old Apple TV still. You can buy and store movies on your iPad or your Mac computers. You can buy and store and play them through the new Apple TV. There are many people who will still want to own and store their music on their own hardware.

    2. I really dont see apple preventing the storage of content on the devices.

      Personally, the iCloud thing so far has zero interest to me…
      I’ll wait to decide till SJ explains it at WWDC. but the “rumors” so far, tell me it’s something i won’t invest a penny in, nor any time.
      If the big thing about iCloud really is Music storage… count me out.

      I think this is a small part of iCloud though, maybe even nothing to do with it. Maybe some Apple Leakage to throw everyone off. (or find weak lipped employees)

    3. Don’t sweat it, mate. Apple really isn’t concerned about those few users that live nearly at the bottom of the world practically disconnected from civilization. iCloud is meant for the hip American urbanites with plenty of cash and bandwidth to spare. Yeah, baby. We got it like that. Big, fat pipes.

      1. Not sure if you’re being a bit sarcastic, as the US internet speeds lag way behind other nations. South Korea, Japan, Sweden, Germany, etc. all have WAY more speed and bandwidth available. The US is actually about 15 years behind…

        Of course, we in the US like to blindly believe that everything here is simply better, and anyone who counters that with actual truth is anti-American and should leave, so sorry for the interruption.

        We also have the best primary schools in the world.

        1. “Of course, we in the US like to blindly believe that everything here is simply better…”

          I’m betting that when you say “we” you really mean “everyone except me.”

    4. I TOTALLY AGREE!! I like Apple products but I really hope they do not eventually make storing obsolete. I can only use a max of 425 MB with HughesNet a day. (ONLY service I can get!)

  2. Once our music libraries were upgraded to iTunes Plus it’d be great to be able to download them for secure offline storage. That would be worth at least the first yer’s subscription!

  3. Want to know what this means. It means for example your listening to a song on the radio. You like the song so you let your iPhone listen to it then scan the song if u want it hit upload to iPod and it’s on ur iPod, iPad, and iMac. Boom goes the dynamite and it only costs 50$ per year

  4. I agree with this speculation, except I don’t think it will be “their entire music collections.” Apple already knows precisely what each customer (iTunes Store ID) has purchased through the iTunes Store. There is no need to “scan and match.” Apple will just make every song that each customer has purchased through the iTunes Store available immediately for streaming at no additional cost (or effort). Every future song purchase will obviously be available for online streaming. This will save Apple on storage expense, because the song files are stored “collectively” for common access (based on purchase history), not “individually” (based on the customer uploading it).

    Perhaps “scan and match” is a way for Apple to offer sale of, or online access to, the rest of the customer’s songs that did not come from the iTunes Store, but are available in the iTune Store catalog. There would have to be some cost for this service, but not sure how it would work.

    Customers should also be able to upload song files individually into their own (paid-for) online storage space, to make songs that are not sold by the iTunes Store available for streaming. Since iTunes will be used, the process would be mostly painless compared to the annoyingly “manual” way Amazon does it.

    1. This is also exactly the way Lala worked. Except I don’t think Lala even charged for the storage space for songs not in their catalog. And, they let you “buy” a song for unlimited streaming (to computer only, not mobile) for 10 cents per song. Result = I spent more money on music than any other time since the end of the CD; got more than 10X as much new music for my money; was 10X as happy as with iTunes. It is shocking to me how few people used Lala or have any clue of what a beautiful thing it was.

    2. I can see offering free streaming on any song purchased through iTunes but to have the rest of your stuff streamed you would have to buy into MobileMe/iCloud.
      I would bet it was presented to record labels by saying, “Listen, you already have money from people who buy from iTunes Store. The rest of the the stuff in the library is either CDs that they have ripped, which you’ve been paid for, or things they have downloaded, which you haven’t been paid for. Let’s charge them ONLY for songs that aren’t purchased through iTunes and that way you’ll get a double-dip on people who legitimately buy music while at the same time get some coin from people who use torrents”

    3. Apple let’s me “Home Share” my entire library through iTunes, They’ve designed and patented a “Scan & Match” system. Why wouldn’t they implement it?

      Apple has a patent specifically for a “scan & match” system.

  5. Personally, I’m hoping that the iCloud service makes me forget about the Xserve and the Enterprise Objects framework. Being able to use an Apple-hosted server farm, and develop my server apps in Objective-C, would mean a lot for the kinds of customers I used to work for back in my NeXTSTEP days.

    -jcr

  6. I think this has little to do with music and a lot more to do with file sharing and collaboration between devices and operating systems -. iOS5, Lion etc.

    Less dependency on local storage and the ability to sync devices, files etc. on the go. I don’t think the idea is to stream music from the cloud but the ability to be able download from your own cloud within the cloud.

    The current limitation of iPads/iPhones etc. is file storage. You cannot easily share files and move them about. You have to perform a local sync or email files to move them. Its a pain. With a cloud you can easily access such files and so can others.

    The iWork updates from yesterday point to this being the case.

    Interesting times lay ahead. Effectively Apple are lessening the reliance on the desktop.

    The only trouble I foresee is bandwidth. Is there enough and how do we pay for it – limits/roaming etc.

    1. “Most audiophiles” is a minuscule category.

      There was a time in late 70’s when good quality stereo gear was a mainstream hobby. So many people were researching the subject, trying to get best possible preamps, amps, speakers, room treatments, cables, etc. Then came walkman, good quality music enjoyment went mainstream, the sound quality from an audio cassette became “good enough” and that was that for the mainstream audiophile hobby.

      Chances of iCloud providing music in lossless are practically non-existent, much like chances of iTunes introducing sales of lossless music. 256kbps AAC is certainly “good enough” for mainstream audience; it is certainly significantly better than the old audio cassette, and close enough to the CD for all but professional audio engineers to not notice the difference.

      1. i had an argument with an “audiophile” once at work.
        I made 2 songs from a CD for him, one “lossless”, one 192 mp3.
        he new for sure which was the mp3.

        sadly for him… both were 192 mp3 😉
        i just made one 3db higher volume when i edited it.

        there are audiophiles, and then there are people that THINK they are audiophiles.
        a true audiophile… is a small portion of listeners.

        the majority of people listening to music, just want the good enough version.
        there will be a small minority whining about it, and they will be vocal.

  7. Who the fuck cares about online music storage? What is the big deal about it? Why would anyone want that unless their hard drive is too small? Will apple release smaller iPhones with smaller hard drives? How about FINALLY giving us a file system on the iPhone? How about finally allowing Word documents to be read properly on the iPhone/iPad? These are real problems that affect my daily experience in a negative way. The need for online music storage is not.

    1. I’m inclined to agree that too much emphasis has been put on cloud music and that this can only be a part of Apple’s iCloud. I don’t want to stream songs. MobileMe is pretty good at allowing me to store, sync and access files through my laptop, iPhone and iPad, especially using an app like Goodreader, but it would be nice if some of this functionality was inherent in iOS so I could have a file system on board that allows me to open files in the app I want and have access to many more files than my iPad 64GB can reasonable hold. The iDisk app may be a precursor to this, but it need more juice.

    2. Well, I have some 5 devices that store iTunes content (iMac, MacBook, MBP, iPod touch and a Windows box in the office). Four of those are host iTunes machines (iPod touch being synched to one of them). My life would be infinitely easier if I could have ALL my iTunes content (music, shows, podcast subscriptions, iTunes U subscriptions, etc) on ALL of these. For the machines that are in physical (i.e. network) proximity, there are third-party solutions that are reasonably reliable, simple and inexpensive, but nowhere nearly as elegant and as simple as the rest of the Apple eco-system. An iCloud concept would eliminate all the issues I have with keeping all my iTunes devices in sync with the content.

      I believe my scenario is rather common; almost every person in the developed world has at least one computer in the office, and one at home, with both running iTunes and out of synch.

      1. As for file system on iOS (and Word docs), I haven’t seen the need for manipulating files directly on the iOS. And iWork (Pages) seems to work well for Word docs. Other than Apple trying to strong-arm Microsoft into writing Office for iOS, I can’t possibly think of another way for them to improve Word compatibility.

        1. Correct. Office is successful for two reasons. Familiarity and the document format. If iCloud puts the power in the document and its format free then there’s no need to have Office. iWork or whatever you use is fine. The dependency will become the Cloud not the so much the application.

      2. I have my library, albeit small since i haven’t purchased any music in maybe 5-7 years… Is in one central location hooked up to my Airport Extreme. My iPod nano, iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, Power Mac and my iMac all pull from it when i do fire up itunes to listen to music. (the Power Mac is my server/storage for my AppleTV)
        At work, i have this thing called a JOB…… iTunes installed, would make me NOT HAVE A JOB. you know…. cause i’m hired to WORK not listen to music all day. hooking up a USB drive… would get me fired. We just fired someone for doing just that… we have proprietary stuff on the network, any outside devices, or files… forbidden. they even tried to outlaw cell phones once. (didn’t work, but it came close)
        This is the scenario i think most people deal with. Music is not even a priority at work.. Work comes first, music comes last. it’s not part of your job.
        At work i have my Nano when i can listen, but it can’t touch the windows PC i do have to use.. and i wouldn’t let it touch it anyway.

  8. If Apple could introduce a set of rock solid cloud services that compliment and support their ecosystem this could be huge. Improving what we have with MobileMe, but more integral to iOS and Mac OS, and free.
    But we need new services that solve backup, doc sharing (kinda have that with iWork, music archiving (not necessarily streaming, but rather building of your paid library without ever worrying about where to stash your digital files).
    Then other aspects can start to materialize. Like social sharing, messaging, and genius-type features. All of this might work better than FB and Google, because of one fundamental difference. PRIVACY. Apple is not interested in mining your data to serve you dating ads – because these services support their ecosystem.

  9. An important but as-yet-unaddressed component of the “post-PC Era” is severing the umbilical cord between your mobile device and the desktop/laptop. I suspect that will be a big part of the iCloud announcement.

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