This morning, Apple put out a press release letting the world know that they'll be showing off iOS 5, OS X Lion, and iCloud, their long-awaited cloud service/MobileMe revamp, next week at WWDC. Oddly enough, Apple only went as far as naming iCloud, and called it an "upcoming cloud services offering." Now, we aren't expecting them to go into full detail in a press release, but why even name it at all? We're guessing it's because Apple really wants to set the expectation that WWDC will be focusing on software, softening the blow that will inevitably come when the masses are complaining about the lack of an iPhone 5 hardware reveal. The press release lets us know Apple's WWDC intentions and plans, and sets the expectations accordingly.
WWDC kicks off in six days, and of course, we'll have details of all the announcements as they're made. By the way, the press release also confirms that the incomparable Steve Jobs will be taking the stage at WWDC.
If the CNET report is true, Apple only needs to close deals with Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group now before it secures unprecedented, legitimate access to music from all "Big Four" labels.
In March, Amazon launched its cloud music locker without such rights and faced threats of legal action; it is now reportedly in talks with the labels to secure licensing agreements. Google launched Google Music at its Google I/O event a couple weeks ago.
In April, CNET reported that Apple had inked a deal with Warner Music and "at least one of the remaining three" major music labels. Apple has not officially acknowledged the development of a cloud-based music storage service, but speculation is rife after reports "confirming" the development with unnamed sources. Furthermore, the company recently built a massive data center in North Carolina, reportedly meant to host a video streaming service.
Apple has inexplicably ended two long-offered rebates for MobileMe and iWorks, fueling speculation that it will launch revamped versions of both software suites any day now.
"The 'Buy a Mac and Save $30 on iWork' and 'Buy a Mac or iPad and Save $30 on MobileMe' promotions will both end on April 18, 2011. Resellers must remove any reference to these promotions by close of business on that date," Apple wrote in an alleged letter to resellers obtained by 9to5Mac.
You can still download a free 60-day trial of MobileMe or pay $99 for the annual subscription; iWork is free for 30 days and $79 to purchase thereafter.
Apple MobileMe remotely stores your files and photos, and pushes email and calendar updates to your iOS device or Mac desktop. It launched in 2000 and was last updated in 2008 during Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), held every June.
In December 2010, an Apple fan emailed Steve Jobs to complain about MobileMe, and Jobs reportedly replied, "Yes, it will get a lot better in 2011."
According to PreCentral, HP sent out a PowerPoint presentation to some people who signed up for email notices about the HP TouchPad. That presentation included details about an upcoming HP Music Store and HP Movie Store.
The presentation included two mockups that showed, well, movies and music. A copy of the slide that PreCentral published, however, did not include any pricing.
The presentation apparently included one interesting feature, however, a sort of predictive caching.
"According to that slide, the TouchPad will come with a music syncing solution built-in that utilizes cloud servers to sync and remotely store your music," the site wrote. "More than that, it will leverage a 'smart algorithm' to ensure that the music the user is most likely to listen to is cached locally on the device. This service will also allow TouchPad owners to stream music that they don't yet own. There's also mention that this service will allow you to stream music to HP smartphones, presumably once they too are updated to webOS 3.0 like the TouchPad."
Amazon needs a way to hold on to its music customers in a post-CD era, and tightly integrating its new cloud music service with Amazon MP3 purchases might help it do that, but the concept of a "music locker" is not exactly the most innovative approach and could face licensing issues, according to analysts.
Earlier this week Amazon unveiled a new cloud-based music service that provides users with up to 5GB of free, online music storage, and 20GB of free access for a year if they purchase an album via Amazon MP3. Beyond that, it's $20.
"Amazon needs to establish a strong post-CD role for its music customers, [and] this smartly positioned locker service is an important first step in building that future role," Mark Mulligan, a Forrester research analyst, wrote in a blog post.
Mulligan cautioned, however, that Amazon Cloud Player is not exactly revolutionary. "As logical a next step in the digital music market as locker services might be, they're not an innovation in the music product. They're simply giving people access to the music they have on the devices they own."
Amazon unveiled its new cloud-based music service today, which will provide users with up to 5GB of free, online music storage.
The company is offering Amazon Cloud Drive, Amazon Cloud Player for Web, and Amazon Cloud Player for Android, all of which will let users upload their music collections to the cloud and access those songs on Android phones and tablets, as well as the PC and Mac.
No word on an iOS version, but Amazon recently launched an Amazon Appstore, so it's focus at the moment is likely on the Google-owned platform.
Amazon will provide users with 5GB of free storage. Those who purchase an album via Amazon's MP3 store will get 20GB of free storage for one year; albums purchased via Amazon MP3 are automatically added to Amazon's cloud service and do not count against a user's storage quota. Additional storage plans start at $20 per year, Amazon said.
Users can upload songs in AAC or MP3 formats, and can select certain songs, artists, or albums, or just upload the entire music library.
"The launch of Cloud Drive, Cloud Player for Web and Cloud Player for Android eliminates the need for constant software updates as well as the use of thumb drives and cables to move and manage music," Bill Carr, vice president of Movies and Music at Amazon, said in a statement.
Citing a "trusted" source that "works for a major educational institution," iLounge said that "the current version of MobileMe is no longer available, and that Apple is suggesting new students sign up for the 60-day trial to cover the gap between the final MobileMe shipment and the launch of the new version."
The report could have some truth to it. A 60-day free trial with the option to sign up for the paid service at its conclusion is available on MobileMe page on Apple's site. However, the option to sign up for the year-long paid service without first test-driving it for 60 days is not advertised.
iLounge said that Apple will only support the existing service for another year, to cover those who might have recently subscribed to MobileMe. This means the retooled version of MobileMe could be very different.
Apple has reportedly ditched its $99 cloud-based MobileMe product from its online store amidst rumors that Cupertino is prepping a free version of the service.
According to AppleInsider, the MobileMe site on Apple.com currently leads to a dead link, and resellers have told the blog that Apple notified them about plans to discontinue the product.
The MobileMe Single User product and Family Pack have been declared "End of Life" by Apple, AppleInsider said.
Apple is also planning a 30-minute downtime for me.com tonight, during which time the site's Web-based apps will not be available.
According to some reports around the web, it would appear Google has a new cloud storage service called Google Cloud Picker in the works. The service would allow people to store images and documents on the web, and would tie into Google services like Docs, Apps and Sites. The service was found by some bloggers who saw the login screen, and Techcrunch has reached out to Google and heard that this was some code pushed prematurely, hence a yet to be released system. It makes sense too, since with the company's focus on cloud-only computing, with ChromeOS coming soon, people would need an easy way to keep their data on the web as well as their applications. The details such as how much storage will be offered and whether it will be free or not are still unknown, but we'll keep an eye on this one.
Read More | Techcrunch
Late Friday afternoon, the Drop.io blog posted an announcement saying that they had sold most of their technologies and assets to Facebook. Included in the deal is the fact that the site's creator Sam Lessin will also move on to Facebook. This most likely means that Facebook is looking into easy file sharing for one of its future services. The site allowed users to create an account, and freely store data on the web where they could then share it with other users.
Of more interest to us, however, is the part where the actual Drop.io service will be shutting down on Dec 15, and all data deleted. This means everyone who used the site will need to download their data if they need it. This is a chilly reminder that any cloud-based service can shut down at any point, taking all your data with it. Just earlier this year Yahoo! shut down Geocities and they simply went ahead and deleted decades worth of user data.
As we rely more and more on web services, it's worth keeping in mind that no one cares about our files more than we do.
Read More | Drop.io blog