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Apple's iTunes cloud could be free at first, but will eventually require a fee

post #1 of 41
Thread Starter 
Apple has reportedly told music executives that its cloud-based iTunes streaming service could be offered for free at first, but the company eventually plans to charge customers for hosting content on its servers.

Citing insiders in the music industry, CNet reported Tuesday that Apple is expected to charge -- if not at first, then eventually -- for its music cloud service. The long-rumored iTunes cloud will allow users to stream their music and media to Internet-connected devices, negating the need for content to be stored locally on a connected device like an iPhone or iPad.

Exactly how much Apple might charge for the service remains unknown. In fact, Apple has apparently told music executives that it has "completed" work on its streaming music service, but has not given specifics on how the product will work.

Instead, Apple has only reportedly offered up a description of the service in "broad strokes" to music executives. Sources have indicated that Apple will allow users to store songs they have purchased from the company's iTunes Music Store and other locally stored content and listen to them on multiple devices.

Apple is said to have already inked a deal with Warner Music for the iTunes cloud. Another report from last week claims that Apple has reached agreements with two of the four major music labels, though it is not known if Warner is one of the two, or if it is a third that has agreed.

Apple's rival Amazon launched its own digital music locker last month, allowing users to upload their own music files to Amazon's servers. The online retailer offers 5GB of free online storage, and premium accounts that are expandable up to 1,000GB for a fee, while customers who purchase an MP3 album are entitled to 20GB of storage for one year.

But Amazon has also faced backlash from the music industry, as it did not secure any licensing agreements from record labels before launching its service. In addition, Google's own plans for a cloud-based music streaming service are said to be at a standstill in negotiations with the labels.
post #2 of 41
If you can store your data on your home machine and use that as the server to the cloud, then that's a far better solution than requiring you to store your data on your host's servers (the way Google and RIM do). I think it's perfectly fair for Apple to provide the former for free, and the latter for a charge. I think that's really what's going to happen here, and the "music industry insiders" aren't recognizing it for what it really is.

Apple currently has "home sharing" between devices that use the same Apple ID on a local network. All they need is to change that LAN sharing to WAN sharing, and keep the Apple ID requirement. Home Sharing becomes Remote Sharing.
post #3 of 41
If Apple's Cloud is essentially selling storage for content the user already owns, why does Apple have to get permission from anyone?
post #4 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

If you can store your data on your home machine and use that as the server to the cloud, then that's a far better solution than requiring you to store your data on your host's servers (the way Google and RIM do). I think it's perfectly fair for Apple to provide the former for free, and the latter for a charge. I think that's really what's going to happen here, and the "music industry insiders" aren't recognizing it for what it really is.

Apple currently has "home sharing" between devices that use the same Apple ID on a local network. All they need is to change that LAN sharing to WAN sharing, and keep the Apple ID requirement. Home Sharing becomes Remote Sharing.

Came here to say exactly this. I really look forward to my Mac becoming my server while my iPad and iPhone are the clients. Should be a lot of fun and really useful!
post #5 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banalltv View Post

If Apple's Cloud is essentially selling storage for content the user already owns, why does Apple have to get permission from anyone?

Because the record companies don't understand the internet or computers and would freak out through their current iTunes contracts if they feel taken advantage of, regardless of whether or not they are actually being taken advantage of.
post #6 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banalltv View Post

If Apple's Cloud is essentially selling storage for content the user already owns, why does Apple have to get permission from anyone?

Because of how convoluted licensing is. It's the reason why Amazon was forced to give everyone a "Cloud Drive" for their music, creating tens of thousands of copies of a song instead of a single copy that people who purchased it could access. (And why Amazon couldn't put your previously purchased music on the cloud drive automatically)

If Apple did really work out a deal with the content providers, they'll most likely do the single copy/license model, which will save them a ton in storage, but it means they have to pay companies for Streaming rights in addition to Download rights... Oh, and if you want it as a ringtone? You have to pay another license for that. It's insane.

I think that artists should get paid when you purchase a song. but I don't think that we should have to pay each time we want to use said song a little differently (Ringtone, On Device, Streaming, etc).
post #7 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by franktinsley View Post

Came here to say exactly this. I really look forward to my Mac becoming my server while my iPad and iPhone are the clients. Should be a lot of fun and really useful!

This has been available for a while from a number of third-party vendors.

I can access my entire music library via Audiogalaxy.

For video, Plex works well and the server component of the desktop app will transcode on the fly.

You have to pay a few bucks for the iOS app, but thankfully it's a universal app, so you don't have to purchase twice (iPad and iPhone/iPod touch).
post #8 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by alienzed View Post

Because the record companies don't understand the internet or computers and would freak out through their current iTunes contracts if they feel taken advantage of, regardless of whether or not they are actually being taken advantage of.

Or they do and it's just another money grab
post #9 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

If you can store your data on your home machine and use that as the server to the cloud, then that's a far better solution than requiring you to store your data on your host's servers (the way Google and RIM do). I think it's perfectly fair for Apple to provide the former for free, and the latter for a charge. I think that's really what's going to happen here, and the "music industry insiders" aren't recognizing it for what it really is.

Apple currently has "home sharing" between devices that use the same Apple ID on a local network. All they need is to change that LAN sharing to WAN sharing, and keep the Apple ID requirement. Home Sharing becomes Remote Sharing.

I'm concerned about the bandwidth needed for so much streaming from a home computer. I think it makes more sense for Apple to read your iTine Library and give you access to those sane files from their data center, much in the same way Dropbox works.
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post #10 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

If you can store your data on your home machine and use that as the server to the cloud, then that's a far better solution than requiring you to store your data on your host's servers (the way Google and RIM do). I think it's perfectly fair for Apple to provide the former for free, and the latter for a charge. I think that's really what's going to happen here, and the "music industry insiders" aren't recognizing it for what it really is.

Apple currently has "home sharing" between devices that use the same Apple ID on a local network. All they need is to change that LAN sharing to WAN sharing, and keep the Apple ID requirement. Home Sharing becomes Remote Sharing.

Something along these lines sounds good.
post #11 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

much in the same way Dropbox works.

It should be like Dropbox. Buy a song from iTunes and that song will appear on all your computer and devices without syncing.
post #12 of 41
I don't get it.

I pay £10 a month to Spotify. For that, I get unlimited streaming of any music I want, regardless of whether it's on my computer or whether I've bought it or accessed it before. I can access it from a PC/Mac, from an iPhone or from an Android, Symbian or other smartphone. I don't have to do any uploading and I get everything in nice 320kbps Vorbis quality. I can even download unlimited tracks to my iPhone's local memory and play them back when I have no signal.

Why would I instead pay money to Apple to stream media which I've already paid for, which will only be accessible on my iDevice? Especially if I have to upload the files myself? Makes no sense at all. Thousands of users uploading identical copies of the same song is absolute madness.
post #13 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Euphonious View Post

I don't get it.

I pay £10 a month to Spotify. For that, I get unlimited streaming of any music I want, regardless of whether it's on my computer or whether I've bought it or accessed it before. I can access it from a PC/Mac, from an iPhone or from an Android or other smartphone. I don't have to do any uploading and I get everything in nice 320kbps Vorbis quality. I can even download unlimited tracks to my iPhone's local memory and play them back when I have no signal.

Why would I instead pay money to Apple to stream media which I've already paid for, which will only be accessible on my iDevice? Especially if I have to upload the files myself? Makes no sense at all.

I honestly don't get it either. I have my ipod which I can plug into whatever I want to listen to my music on. I have itunes sharing on my home network. Primarily in my truck I prefer to listen to satellite radio. Sometimes I plug my ipod in. At home I plug my ipod into my home stereo or play pandora. In bed i'll either listen to a podcast on my ipod or pandora. Though I could airplay my library from my desktop.

If i'm going to do any sort of internet music streaming i'm just going to use pandora.

I just can't think of a single use for a service like this that makes sense to me.
post #14 of 41
Listening to streaming content I don't own makes sense to me - as in Pandora, or similar. Streaming content I already own doesn't - unless bandwidth is free. When I buy it I download it once, if I stream it I literally download it each time I listen to it. If I stream it from my house I pay twice - once up from my server and once down to whatever device wherever I am.

What do you guys use to lo listen to your music? I use my iPhone which I always have with me. Or my laptop which also has a copy of my music. When would I need to stream it? Movies and television is a different story - I tend to only view those once.

Someone explain the logic.
post #15 of 41
Exactly. It's especially ridiculous if you're streaming iTunes Store content from your computer. That's taking a song which you've downloaded from Apple and uploading it back to Apple, in order that you can then download it from Apple again..!

I can't believe Apple is running with that. They're not that stupid.
post #16 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Banalltv View Post

If Apple's Cloud is essentially selling storage for content the user already owns, why does Apple have to get permission from anyone?

because part of the service would probably mean all users to downloaded "Yesterday" by the Beatles would all stream from the same Master file, instead of a million people all uploading their own identical copy. This saves server space, but also changes the definition of "owning" the content.
post #17 of 41
Charging for a cloud service probably is a loosing proposition. Apple would expect to charge customers for storing files and streaming them to an i-device. But AT&T and Verizon will also expect to charge users for bandwidth for streaming this content over the wireless networks, and Comcast and Time Warner for using bandwidth to computers. Hard storage has fallen in price far more rapidly than has bandwidth.

There seems little perceived advantage for the user to pay to stream from the cloud over keeping the files locally on either an i-device or a computer. iTunes works already. The customer has already been taught to use this system.

For this system to be an attractive alternative to the user simply downloading and storing their music, the streaming service will have to offer a more compelling amenity. Unlimited, flat fee content? Low cost, service fee supported i-device?
post #18 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm concerned about the bandwidth needed for so much streaming from a home computer. I think it makes more sense for Apple to read your iTine Library and give you access to those sane files from their data center, much in the same way Dropbox works.

There seems to be a lack of awareness about how constrained upstream speed is with many ISPs.

Further, my download speeds slow to a crawl (Time Warner) whenever a sustained upload is in progress. So if I'm out and about listening to music from a home-based Mac other people in the house will have a near useless Internet connection.

There has to be so much more to the data center than what we're hearing. I can't believe it was built for this.
post #19 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Euphonious View Post

Exactly. It's especially ridiculous if you're streaming iTunes Store content from your computer. That's taking a song which you've downloaded from Apple and uploading it back to Apple, in order that you can then download it from Apple again..!

I can't believe Apple is running with that. They're not that stupid.

I think there is this philosophy that bandwidth is essentially unlimited and ubiquitous which is driving the trend of 'cloud' computing. I'm not sure I buy into it quite yet.

I am not a big fan of free unlocked wireless connections either. Too easy to sniff passwords. Cell data isn't all that fast and a little expensive but at least it is pretty secure. At this point cloud is not that useful for my work environment and even less so for entertainment.

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post #20 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I'm concerned about the bandwidth needed for so much streaming from a home computer. I think it makes more sense for Apple to read your iTine Library and give you access to those sane files from their data center, much in the same way Dropbox works.

Yeah why can't we have unlimited access to the music we already purchased?
post #21 of 41
With the "Decommisioning" of unlimited Data plans, it would seem that anything that is Cloud based would be running fast into a Brick Wall.

What say you all?
post #22 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by iMoan View Post

I hope there is a free trial period. It takes four hours for a hi def movie to buffer on the Apple TV now with Fios and Time Capsule. If I have to wait one hour for a song to play...

What? When I rent a movie I can begin watching instantly. I believe you have other technical issues you need to resolve (EDIT - or are you talking about wifi streaming at home?)
Quote:
Hate to sound like an old timer, but I'll stick with a MacBook Pro and an iPod classic. iOS is not baked yet.

Nothing wrong with MBP and iPod Classic but IOS is pretty baked. Still developing but baked. I heard someone else say that the other day. An old lady who's son had told her IOS was not ready for 'prime time'. I had a sneaking suspicion and when I asked, sure enough - her son worked in IT
post #23 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by NuMoo View Post

With the "Decommisioning" of unlimited Data plans, it would seem that anything that is Cloud based would be running fast into a Brick Wall.

What say you all?

I agree. I have FIOS now with no cap but it could be a matter of time. I left comcast due to their monthly 250gb cap. The lady told me when I called to cancel that most people don't go over that. Well, i'm not most people lady.

And with more and more online streaming more people will be hitting that.
post #24 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Euphonious View Post

I don't get it.

I pay £10 a month to Spotify. For that, I get unlimited streaming of any music I want, regardless of whether it's on my computer or whether I've bought it or accessed it before. I can access it from a PC/Mac, from an iPhone or from an Android, Symbian or other smartphone. I don't have to do any uploading and I get everything in nice 320kbps Vorbis quality. I can even download unlimited tracks to my iPhone's local memory and play them back when I have no signal.

Spotify is very nice and I'm very happy to pay my $10, but it isn't true to say that you can have any music you want. You can only have what they have licensed. Try listening to Adele's 21 on spotify.
post #25 of 41
I *hate* these stories. Apple *could* offer iTunes cloud for free. Apple *could* charge $1 per byte. Apple *could* launch a rocket to Mars.

Any story with the word "could" in it is pure puffery. (I remember reading a story in USA Today that said Apple "could" be in financial trouble if Android tablets outsell iPads! WTF)
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Unicron View Post

Apple *could* charge $1 per byte.

Hmm. Better than the telecoms, at least.
post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by franktinsley View Post

Came here to say exactly this. I really look forward to my Mac becoming my server while my iPad and iPhone are the clients. Should be a lot of fun and really useful!

Me too.

I really think the idea of a personal cloud has more possibilities than the single 3rd party cloud.

But it should be configurable in some declarative way, so you can define what goes where, with Apple or any other 3rd party slotting in where you need it for a price.

But, really, streaming everything sounds to me like brawn over brain. I think our personal cloud should try for a 90/10 rule where 90% has been side-loaded via our home LANs through Smart Rules and then 10% is a top-up as needed and if that content is already on a server somewhere then that's an optimisation too.

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post #28 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by matrix07 View Post

It should be like Dropbox. Buy a song from iTunes and that song will appear on all your computer and devices without syncing.

Sad the way everyone says "like Dropbox" and not "like iDisk".

The great guys at Dropbox have a made a business out of iDisk not being very good.

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post #29 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

Yeah why can't we have unlimited access to the music we already purchased?

Im inclined to thin that is the deal Apple struck with the labels. Your iTunes Store music purchase gets you the downloaded file and access to the file from their master server.

I dont think Apple cares about the cost of the data at this point if it solidifies their ecosystem and creates even more HW spending to support it. I would not be surprised if they did lower the bit rate of music, not because of data costs but because of limitations of bandwidth.


Quote:
Originally Posted by PXT View Post

Sad the way everyone says "like Dropbox" and not "like iDisk".

The great guys at Dropbox have a made a business out of iDisk not being very good.

People say that those that post here are Apple apologistis but I dont recall ever reading comments about iDisk being good. Ive found it useful at times, but by that same token Ive also found mono useful for getting me out of school for a month.
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post #30 of 41
Well, Apple did only clear 6 billion in profits last quarter.

They are feeling the pinch.
post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by PXT View Post

Sad the way everyone says "like Dropbox" and not "like iDisk".

The great guys at Dropbox have a made a business out of iDisk not being very good.

I know Dropbox has greater "mind share" especially in the Mac community, but I use both DBox and SugarSync and prefer SugarSync.

1. Cheaper for mass backup/sync
2. You don't keep stuff in your "Dropbox" in SugarSync - you keep it where you usually keep it - and Sugarsync backs it up from there.
3. Access to any backed up file on any web-connected computer - access, edit, save and resync.

Lots of other good features - automatically moves all your phone-taken pictures to your primary computer (Mac or PC) - AND gives you access to ALL your synced photos on your phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.). So also a good solution for a mixed OS environment. Supposedly allows you to play any of your backed up music anywhere as well - but haven't tried this yet.

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post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpics View Post

I know Dropbox has greater "mind share" especially in the Mac community, but I use both DBox and SugarSync and prefer SugarSync.

1. Cheaper for mass backup/sync
2. You don't keep stuff in your "Dropbox" in SugarSync - you keep it where you usually keep it - and Sugarsync backs it up from there.
3. Access to any backed up file on any web-connected computer - access, edit, save and resync.

Lots of other good features - automatically moves all your phone-taken pictures to your primary computer (Mac or PC) - AND gives you access to ALL your synced photos on your phone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.). So also a good solution for a mixed OS environment. Supposedly allows you to play any of your backed up music anywhere as well - but haven't tried this yet.

SugarSync has some nice features but I think that its less popular because they require a CC/PayPal for just doing the 30-day trial and after that youre minimum cost is $5/month or $50/year.
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post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

SugarSync has some nice features but I think that it’s less popular because they require a CC/PayPal for just doing the 30-day trial and after that you’re minimum cost is $5/month or $50/year.

Not so. There's a more generous free plan than DropBox's as well. 5GB instead of 2GB.

From the site:

"5 GB Free Plan - Not a trial but a free account with no credit cards and no monthly payment. Sign up"

Note: for those who care - and to be balanced - I believe DropBox uses 256 bit AES encyprtion and S.Sync uses 128 bit.

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post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigpics View Post

Not so. There's a more generous free plan than DropBox's as well. 5GB instead of 2GB.

From the site:

"5 GB Free Plan - Not a trial but a free account with no credit cards and no monthly payment. Sign up"

Note: for those who care - and to be balanced - I believe DropBox uses 256 bit AES encyprtion and S.Sync uses 128 bit.

Thanks. I never bothered with SS because their paid service was overshadowing their free service too much.

I know people seem to think this new data center is basically music streaming, but Im expecting something a completely redone MobileMe that will finally make iDisk usable again.
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post #35 of 41
I am not gonna pay to strea music I already own. If apple charges for storage itself, fine but if I can only store songs to stream I won't use it and I doubt many people will either.
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post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by tonton View Post

Apple currently has "home sharing" between devices that use the same Apple ID on a local network. All they need is to change that LAN sharing to WAN sharing, and keep the Apple ID requirement. Home Sharing becomes Remote Sharing.

This functionality is built into Windows 7 but it has never been a killer feature because most people either don't know it exists, don't know how to set it up, or don't want to leave their PC on.

If Apple are going to go with streaming from home they need to find a way to make it simple to set up and run.

I think they should release a NAS box (maybe "iHome" or "iHub") that acts as a networked time machine and iTunes server.
post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post


...I think they should release a NAS box (maybe "iHome" or "iHub") that acts as a networked time machine and iTunes server.

I can use my OLD Apple TV as somewhat of an iTunes server. For some reason Apple won't update it to stream to the new apple tv or my iPhone, even though it can stream to Airport Express.
post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

I know people seem to think this new data center is basically music streaming, but Im expecting something a completely redone MobileMe that will finally make iDisk usable again.

I think you're spot on with this. Music streaming is only going to be one tiny feature of the revamped MobileMe.

I also think the article is correct in that MobileMe will continue to be a service you pay for.

Apple might offer a very cut-down (i.e. 1GB limit) free account, but I think it's more likely they will have a 1 or 2 month free trial of the full service.
post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Firefly7475 View Post

I think you're spot on with this. Music streaming is only going to be one tiny feature of the revamped MobileMe.

I also think the article is correct in that MobileMe will continue to be a service you pay for.

Apple might offer a very cut-down (i.e. 1GB limit) free account, but I think it's more likely they will have a 1 or 2 month free trial of the full service.

With so many syncing services that simply blow iDisk away I dont think Apple can stick with only a paid model. They already made Find My iPhone free. I think making OTA syncing of contacts, calendars, and, as you say, 1GB of data for iDisk they can get people more attached to the ecosystem and encourage additional MM paid subscriptions.

Will mail be included in this service? I think the mindshare of Apple is great enough that if they offered free email to users the way Google did we could see another shift in email in this century. Although if they do that I hope they are smart about the adoption the way Google was with Gmail. IOW, you need invites to get access and not the free for all 30-day trail that brought MM to its knees two years ago.
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post #40 of 41
This is part of MobileMe. Like MobileMe it will have a free trial, perhaps 60 days perhaps only 30 days. Then you pay whatever a month. If you want you can later upgrade to the full MobileMe.

They will likely use a single or handful of copies on their servers for most of the music and then perhaps there will be a small (say 2gb) space where you can upload things that aren't in their collection. Or they might reserve that only for full users to do with their idisk with hopefully an improved interface so the two sets will mix and match seamlessly

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