Apple to charge for cloud-based iTunes? | iLounge News


Apple to charge for cloud-based iTunes?

Apple will eventually charge a fee for its cloud-based iTunes service, according to a new report. Citing music industry insiders, Cnet reports that while Apple has indicated that it could initially offer the service free of charge, it will eventually require a fee. A pair of reports from last week indicated that work on Apple’s cloud-based music service has been “completed,” and that the company has already secured deals with two of the four major music labels for the service, while company executives push to finalize the remaining deals. The service will reportedly allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and access them from anywhere they have an Internet connection. Cnet notes that while an earlier report pegged Apple’s pricing for the service at $20 annually, none of its sources were sure what the company plans to charge.

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What I would think would happen is a tier based fee like many other cloud service providers use. Apple will allow you to use, say 5 GB to store iTunes purchases for no fee. Then you can upgrade to a 10, 20, 30 GB etc. plan that would increase in cost with each increase in storage space. If Apple can implement this type of service and manage to start offering the current MobileMe service for free, I will be thrilled. Just stop charging me for services that so many other providers offer for nothing…and do a better job with in many cases.

Posted by Mitch on April 26, 2011 at 2:46 PM (CDT)


Won’t use it.. don’t care.

Posted by Kyle on April 26, 2011 at 5:28 PM (CDT)


On the surface, I’m not sure such a service would be of benefit to me, as my music is pretty much with me all the time. However, if I could upload my entire iTunes library—music, TV shows, and movies—to the cloud service and access that content on my Apple TV, that I would pay for so I don’t have to have my MacBook Pro constantly running to allow the Apple TV to access my media.

Posted by cxc273 on April 26, 2011 at 7:59 PM (CDT)


Just remember, any downloading and uploading you do from the “cloud” counts against your ISP’s monthly allotment (or your carrier’s iPhone’s database allotment). 

So tell me again why I should entrust my media collection to the “cloud”—at my expense?

Posted by JimmyBobSmith on April 26, 2011 at 9:25 PM (CDT)


I don’t get it. Why would anyone want this?

Posted by Dick Bacon on April 26, 2011 at 10:00 PM (CDT)


I think a few key points in this setup have true value.

1) If Apple stores a copy of your iTunes purchases to their “cloud” servers, then you can simply reacquire them if they get corrupted/deleted from your local system/device. That would negate the need to back up your purchased music. Not that I would simply stop backing up mind you. But this is another route to retrieve lost, purchased files.

2) Anyone that thinks they are going to use this service for constant streaming is not going to be happy. In my case, I MIGHT opt to use this service to simply have “reach back” capability to music I may not have loaded on my iPhone or iPad due to storage limitations. Now I am out with friends and want them to hear this song they may like. It can easily be accessed and downloaded to my device and then played. Fairly minimum data usage in that scenario…unless you want your friends to hear the entire Beatles catalog!

I am on the fence really. I have tried the Amazon service and it has potential. If Apple finds a way to truly align this with iTunes and iOS, it could be a great tool. Especially if you can live with the possible free tier.

Posted by Mitch on April 27, 2011 at 7:46 AM (CDT)



@2: If that’s the case, your comment is pointless
@4: Streaming uses such a small amount of data that it’s unlikely to impact your on the go data cap and almost everyone who would be using this has unlimited data on their home network.
@5: Depends on how it’s implemented. If users can basically sync their iTunes libraries to a remote server for a reasonable fee, just what you could save on buying a larger iPhone/touch/iPad would pay for the service. If it also acted as a backup, even better. Now, if it’s just content you buy from the iTS, yep, who cares? But let’s hope Apple and the labels are a bit brighter than that.

I’m taking a wait and see approach - if Apple offers a service that is be fully integrated with iTunes and let me sync my existing library to it AND acts as a remote backup for a reasonable fee (emphasis on the reasonable), I’d be all over this service (and I don’t even have any sort of cellular data plan).

The problem with competing services is that they price themselves outside of reasonable. For instance, to hold my entire media library, Amazon wants $500/year; um, no. Maybe if I planned to make heavy use of the streaming feature it wouldn’t seem so insane but only slightly nutters, but when you can could get your own server with its own internet ID and just SSH into that for less, why would you ever do something like this?

Wait until there’s something to actually analyze before forming final opinions.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 27, 2011 at 7:54 AM (CDT)


@7: You make an excellent point that I somehow forgot to address. Will Apple be allowed/choose to act as a repository for ALL of a subscribers tracks…be that iTunes purchases, ripped CD, etc. My initial thought is “No”, Apple will not take on the liability of letting it’s customers store music that can not be authenticated. In fact, I would go so far as to say the labels have written this in to the deal themselves.

It is easy enough to say that any iTunes track is indeed authentic and licensed. It is another issue to say that my Beatles box set is. For all Apple knows (and the RIAA), I could have downloaded the whole thing from Limewire (or whatever P2P happens to be hot right now). In actuality, I was given the little USB green apple from EMI that contains the entire catalog in FLAC and MP3 formats (it is an excellent idea that I would love to see other “big catalog” artists adopt!) for Christmas last year. But there is no way that I am aware of to authenticate this. Therefore, I am sure this deal will only involve iTunes purchased items…as sad as that may be. :(

Posted by Mitch on April 27, 2011 at 8:22 AM (CDT)


Ok…first of all, Apple does NOTHING for free for its customers.  MobileMe won’t be free and *any* storage you get in their cloud system will cost money.  This will be partly due to the fact that the music industry will get their kickbacks from the fees.  With the deals that Apple strikes with movie and music studios…everyone needs to get paid. Apple’s margins are unprecedented in the electronics industry and they continue to keep getting better.

I love it when people say, “wow, I get all that in the new iPhone for the same cost as what the previous version was.”  Well…idiots, that’s because Wang in China just got a raise up to $0.25/day to put that phone together.  Apple’s buying power has been going up and their contracts with their suppliers have been dropping considerably so their margins continue to grow without having to charge more.  That’s greed my friends.

I like Apple products…I use them everyday…and SJ is a smart guy but that doesn’t mean I’m not pissed that they continue to gouge their long time customers…and it gets worse with every iteration.  At least Bill Gates uses a huge chunk of his money for charities and such…Steve Jobs hoards his (look up the difference in charitable contributions…you can’t even compare the two)...and what is sad is that all that money won’t make him any healthier and he will die a rich a-hole.

Posted by Pysclone on April 27, 2011 at 9:49 AM (CDT)


Mitch - you can already sync and play your music, unauthenticated (whatever that means, wasn’t aware we had to hold onto our receipts from music my parents bought me in the 1970s ;-)), from a number of services, including Amazon, mp3tunes, dropbox, and many, many others.

If Apple actually expects such a service to survive consumer scrutiny, it has to be better than any existing alternative (including just creating your own music server you run from home, which currently is a far better deal than anyone else is offering if you’re willing to invest a few hundred up front), otherwise all the deals will be pointless.

Even if you considered only that music I either personally paid for or personally downloaded through some sort of GNU-like license, iTunes music still accounts for less than 1% of it, and based on iTunes sales relative to iPod sales, that’s not far off of the average. Number one music retailer or not, just isn’t that much iTunes sourced music out there.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 27, 2011 at 10:22 AM (CDT)


CM - I am aware that there are services that allow exactly what you describe. I am also aware that the labels like to play a little different game when it comes to Apple. Look at DRM-free music. Amazon (and others) offered it well before Apple because the labels only had that one real hole-card. It started out as a way to “protect” label interest by limiting use of purchased music. It quickly evolved into a way to bargain with Apple for that $.99 to $1.29/popular song increase. The removal of DRM and that price bump came hand-in-hand.

My point is simply that the labels will not allow Apple to act as that digital music repository. My “authentication” is simply the metadata embedded in purchased digital song files (be that iTunes, Amazon or any other legitimate source).

The vast majority of my collection comes from nearly 1000 ripped CD’s that I have amassed through the years. I have a very small amount of (ahem) questionable music files. So I know exactly what you are saying about the small (but growing) percentage of actual iTunes content in the wild.

But I just do not see Apple being allowed to operate as you describe. The labels will make sure a competing company(s) hold that edge for reasons no deeper than a power struggle. ;)

Posted by Mitch on April 27, 2011 at 10:49 AM (CDT)


“The labels will make sure a competing company(s) hold that edge for reasons no deeper than a power struggle. ;)”

See, here’s my thought process, wonky though it may turn out to be:

No doubt, that is what the labels want. However, let’s give Apple some credit here. There actually is no need to seek label approval at all to offer this service. Apple probalby couldn’t offer to automatically put your iTunes purchases on such a digital locker, but they certainly could rent you such a digital locker, provide a hook into the computer and iOS iTunes/iPod apps, and run with it and the labels would be left with nothing other than vacuous threats to pull out of the iTunes store (pretty sure at this point Apple could donate all of their profits from the music side of their iTunes store to charity and it wouldn’t even register as statistically significant on their balance sheet).

In other words, since Apple quite literally holds all the real power in this negotiation, they’re dealing with the labels as a matter of courtesy.

Would you as a multibillion dollar corporation holding nearly 100% of the power to do whatever you wanted anyhow (let’s face it, it would probably be more profitable to stop selling music and just offer a better service than Amazon’s). allow the labels to force you into being an inferior service provider?

I don’t buy it. Given the general lack of critical mass in consumer demand for such a service, I have no idea why Apple would bother offering it at all unless they can outperform their competitors.

Posted by Code Monkey on April 27, 2011 at 11:42 AM (CDT)


I see it as more of a WANT than a NEED when it comes to Apple’s relationship with the music industry. Does Apple need the labels to be happy and on-board? No. Does Apple want this? Yes. That way they can have another major industry lauding them for their efforts and anointing them as the saviors of the music industry (I know that is a bit overboard, but it seems like just the idea that could be running through SJ’s mind right about….now).

Apple has the clout. Apple can dictate the terms. But if the labels decide to aim those “vacuous threats” at Apple, it creates some bad press. And Apple HATES bad press. Even if that press does zero actual damage.

As far as Apple getting into this particular fight, you are 100% correct. Apple generally does not get into anything if they do not think they can best the competition (well, maybe not Ping). So if they are throwing their “digital locker” hat into the ring, I am certainly willing to believe they have something to offer. And I do hope it is inline with your ideas. Especially that “reasonable fee” part…

Posted by Mitch on April 27, 2011 at 12:26 PM (CDT)


Apple is already storing all my purchases. The problem is they don’t let me redownload them in the event of loss. I would have preferred they left the DRM in music and allowed re-downloads like with apps so I would know my content was safe even in the event of backup failure.

Posted by Tom on April 27, 2011 at 12:34 PM (CDT)

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