(Social) iTunes In The Cloud?

Traditionally secretive Apple is not talking about where it is on plans to offer a Lala-like service, after acquiring Lala last December:

Greg Sandoval, Apple’s plan for Lala cloudier than ever

But eight months after the acquisition, Apple is telling executives at the four top labels that if Apple offers any cloud music features within the next few months, they will likely be “modest in scope” and not include the kind of functionality that Apple outlined in meetings with the labels, such as storing users’ music on its servers, sources told CNET. They added that Apple still hasn’t negotiated the kind of licensing deals it would need to distribute music from the cloud.


Another puzzle piece that appears to be falling into place is the server farm Apple is building in North Carolina. Apple executives said last month following their most recent earnings report that the facility, which some have begun calling “the Orchard,” is on schedule to be completed by the end of the year. Many in the media have speculated these servers will be the backbone for Apple’s cloud services.

Cloud storage could help overcome one of the roadblocks confronting Apple’s top gadgets. The iPad, iPod, and iPhone all have limited ability to store the films, e-books, apps, and songs Apple wants to sell owners of these devices. The cloud could help make hard drives irrelevant and help users avoid losing content that can occur when hard drives malfunction.

The delay in moving forward is likely the fallout from iPad and iPhone success. The explosion of interest in Apple mobile technologies has likely forced a reinterpretation of any earlier ideas about the Son of Lala. Formerly, the majority of attention had to have been on Mac OS, but the future is obviously swinging toward mobile operating platforms.

For this to make sense, real-time streaming and synchronization is more important than ever. And of course, given the relatively modest storage capacity of these devices, they have to get Amazon-sized cloud server farms up and running. “The Orchard” is a must for that to happen.

Meanwhile, I wonder what Apple’s plans are on making music a social experience? Sharing playlists is just the start of where this could go.

Perhaps Apple is going to make social interaction a fundamental aspect of next generation operating platforms, so that global user identities will be used for more than logging in, and actions like following people, and posting to your streamlings will be primary to the user experience, not implemented in a hundred incompatible ways by applications.

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