Apple boss launches cloud media service

1st June 2011

The company has taken the unusual step of pre-announcing a broad push into online services, according to the Financial Times (paywall). It is seeking to reinforce its consumer gadgets with a stronger presence in the ‘cloud' services which are increasingly used.

Steve Jobs, Apple chief executive, will take a break from his indefinite medical leave to give a keynote speech at the Worldwide Developers Conference, and present the product on June 6, according to the Daily Telegraph. The report added that the news came in a press release, unusually for Mr Jobs, who likes to build anticipation and dramatically unveil products on stage, where he can demonstrate them.

The news came as Apple is creating a music service that will let users listen to digital songs they already own by streaming them onto any computer, smartphone or tablet.

Two people familiar with its negotiations, according to the Financial Times (paywall), said Apple would pass 70% of revenues from the new service to music companies. Apple has deals with three big record labels, and is close to a deal with the fourth, Universal Music.

The new online music service is expected to be the centerpiece of the Apple's efforts to build a bigger following for its online services under the iCloud name.

The news has prompted many to comment. For instance, Pennichange said on the report in the Daily Telegraph: "iCloud – oh dear, we've been talking "cloud" in IT for years, so this is not exactly new. Yawn – more marketing terminology for less on your device and more in a datacentre, where who knows who is using your data!"

Despite the dominance of its online iTunes and App stores, Apple's other internet services have failed to gain momentum.

Mobile Me, its collection of data backup and other personal services, was held back by subscription pricing when most rivals were free. Ping, a social network built on top of Apple's iTunes, has failed to attract a great deal of attention.

As the only licensed service, Apple will be able to copy users' music libraries and replicate them from its own remotely held catalogue of songs, for access from any computer, smartphone or tablet. Users of the Amazon and Google services have to upload their collections first, which can be a time-consuming process, said the Daily Telegraph.

It is thought the company is trying to manage people's expectations as this is expected to be the first June since the iPhone was launched in 2007 that the company will not deliver a new version of the device. It is expected that the company will not launch the iPhone 5 until autumn at the earliest, the report added.

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