Just in case you weren't sure how influential iCloud would be next week at WWDC 2011, here's a look at one of the banners that is going up at the Moscone Center. Yep, iCloud gets top billing, right next to Mac OS X Lion and iOS 5. Apple must see iCloud as a pretty big deal, and it already told us as much. Now, we wait.
I've long since stopped kvetching over the number of things Apple chief executive Steve Jobs can attach an "i" to and call his own. The maverick CEO's track record is just too darn good. Now that we know that Apple's iCloud is a real thing, there's no sense in wondering how Jobs can have the gall to rebrand cloud computing. I'd rather focus on what Apple will do with the cl...er... iCloud now that Apple has adopted it as its own.
Is Apple new to the cloud? If you accept that at the most fundamental level, cloud computing is simply a matter of thin clients (hardware or software) accessing Internet-based services and intelligence, then the answer is no. Consider Apple's reliance on streaming services for Apple TV's TV show and movie rentals, or the way genius playlists work.
iCloud, which Apple will officially unveil at next week's World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), will be more, and streaming content is only the beginning. Obviously, we expect some sort of cloud-based, access-anywhere music library. Apple may even cave and offer a subscription-based music service. These plans will only succeed if Apple has done what Google failed to do with Google Music Beta: convince the major labels to let consumers store and access purchased (and rented) music from central servers.
I think music labels fear this not only because they worry about losing further control of the digital bits that make up their vast song libraries, but because no one will ever buy more than one copy of a song again, and if they get subscription access, they're done buying music—period.
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.