Steve Jobs introduces the iCloud, launches direct assault on Google and Amazon music services

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Image Credit: Beck Diefenbach/Landov

Apple CEO and Randian superhero Steve Jobs arrived at the annual Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco with a simple message for Apple’s customers: “You truly belong here with us among the clouds.” Witness iCloud, a new internet service which will allow users to sync up information stored on various Apple devices via a cloud-based storage system. (The company tried something somewhat similar with the much-despised MobileMe; Jobs, to his credit, said that the service “was not our finest hour.”) As reported by the L.A. Times, users will get 5 gigabytes of free data to store in the cloud — less gigs than Gmail, but Jobs pointedly pointed out that the iCloud will be advertisement-free.

The iCloud comes with lots of interesting new bits of functionality, but the one that will affect you the most is its attachment to iTunes. The iCloud will allow music already purchased from iTunes to appear on up to 10 devices. More intriguingly, the system comes with a new service called iTunes Match, which will see if your non-iTunes music (i.e., music ripped from a CD) exists in the 18-million-track iTunes library in higher-quality form. If it does, you can stream those songs to other devices — via a service costing $24.99 a year. Unlike similar Google and Amazon cloud-based music services, it doesn’t appear as if iTunes Match will actually allow you to store your music in the cloud — you’ll still need to maintain your library on a hard disk. Then again, Apple has official deals in place with the major record labels, so the iCloud comes with an unofficial “law-abiding citizen” merit badge.

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  • Jay

    I dont want that “law-abiding citizen” merit badge. I just want to freely move music from a CD I bought wherever the hell I want to.

    No thanks, Apple. Try again

    • Tom

      Ubuntu works great.

    • Tom

      No thanks? Sounds like they just made your dreams come true!

  • JAM

    FAIL. No thanks Jobs.

    • Tom

      Why? Or are you just Captain Judgy?

  • James The Greatest

    I have to say… I don’t think consumers want this whole cloud nonsense that everyone keeps trying to push on us. The vast majority of people prefer owning their own copy of things, whether that be as a CD or a digital file stored on their hard drive. That’s why Napster and Rhapsody haven’t broken big. Amazon, Apple, and Google are all racing to win the cloud competition, but I honestly don’t think consumers care… at least not yet.

    • Cate

      Oh, I definitely care. What I want is to upload ALL of my CDs and MP3s to a cloud service so I never have to worry about the physical existence and clutter and hard drive space, and never have to worry about being tethered to one particular device.

      • Jonathan

        100% agree with this.

      • mark

        this.

      • Cyn

        Absofreakinglutely.

      • Ann

        Until you have a solar flare that erases everything in your cloud. Then you are going to be like, I wish I had a cd right now.

      • Tim

        I couldn’t play my video games for almost a month. No thank you iCloud. Its either in my hot little hands or forget it.

      • joblo

        And what happens when your internet connection goes down?

      • Jeff

        Instead you’ll be worrying about having Internet connectivity, and a more limited control of your music library.

        Get your head out of the cloud.

    • Rob

      Here is the thing though. You can do both. Store it on a hard drive and have it on the cloud. S all that stuff you have on your hard drive at home can be linked up on a cloud and connected to at work.

      • Tom

        Music should be open source based, and that way it can be used on any device you want to purchase. This is just another way to corner the consumer into using a corner. They should call it the iCorner

  • Shannon Berry

    Ok I DO use mobileme, never really had a problem with it, i hope there not getting rid of it because thats my main email address

    • laylagalise

      Seriously I don’t think they can do that to the customers who have been paying for it. It’s also where my website info is stored and I don’t plan on moving any of those files any time soon. I just hope we don’t have some obnoxious transition period like the we had to go through when .mac turned into MobileMe.

  • Kevin

    “…pointedly pointed out…” Really?

    • Tom

      It’s two separate uses of the words that do share a commonality. It’s little odd, but not grammatically incorrect. And I think they were doing it purposefully. So where’s the Beef?

  • Ms. Chanandler Bong

    Um, what? I seriously can’t keep up anymore.

  • Jonathan

    I was enjoying this idea until I realized that there wouldn’t be cloud storage similar to Amazon. The only thing keeping me from getting a Cloud Drive is the limited space and the various issues I’ve had with downloading mp3′s from their store. I have yet to find a solution to transferring all of my music to a new laptop; I suppose this isn’t the tool I was hoping it would be.

    • Tom

      It is cloud storage of a kind, and Apple also announced other types of cloud storage for documents as well.

      Not sure why you need to upload your music to the cloud and then download it all again (you are missing the point). Just stick it on a flash drive and put it on your laptop.

      What did you envision this tool to be?

  • Kevin

    Amazon is already the better place to go for MP3 downloads (MUCH cheaper), but if they were smart, they would stick it to Apple by giving customers the option of downloading albums at a lower bit-rate at a super-cheap price, giving iTunes loyalists a reason to purchase albums on Amazon while utilizing Apple’s iTunes Match service.

    • Jonathan

      This is very true. There just seems to be a lot of issues with Amazon every time I deal with it. However, for 69 cents for popular songs, it’s worth it! Plus they have some of the best customer service I’ve ever dealt with.

      • Gina Vera

        Ditto! Love Amazon I don’t even bother to go to stores for media (dvd/bluray/cd) just get it at Amazon works just fine. I don’t understand the fasination with iTunes Stores, the devices some have their merits (iPad & iPhone). The rest much rather have my Napster subcription on my tiny little Sansa where I can play my subcription and Amazon tracks without all the syncing mess snd make my MP3 CDs for my car. It may be able to be done with iTunes/Apple but so much more complicated due to the copyright on their files.

      • Tom

        Gina, first, Napster also works on iPads and iPhones. And this new announcement pretty much solves your problems.

  • yeomandroid

    it will be magical, mystical, but at a price. $$$$

    • Tom

      You want Steve Jobs to give you free things? Nice attitude to life there, pal…

      • Cyn

        You see, Tom, just about everyone wants a free lunch. They never realize that there are no free lunches, as someone is always footing the bill.

  • pkp

    I think I need a tutor. or a life coach.

  • Jeff

    I really hate this “Cloud” business with a passion. Having all your content stored online by a service is simply taking away your ownership of your material and control of your privacy. It also limits your enjoyment of your content to your internet connection.

    I like having total control of my digital content and complete access to it at any time.

    To hell with the Cloud. I hope it fails.

  • darkknightboston

    Here’s the reality of what is happening. You can still have a copy on your computer/hd. What they are doing is giving you access to music based on what you already purchased. Hence, Apple is not spending a lot on storage. You dont think they are keeping a million copies of a song when it would be simpler to keep one copy in their cloud service and give you access bc you purchased a license to use it. They are going to download it to all of your devices.

    The other reality is that in about 5 years CDs will be the way of the cassette tapes. Apple is making this happen faster based on this new update. Devices are going to be cheaper and you are not going to need to have a high gig of HD…

    Once again, Apple has blown me away with this hat trick of software…I am so happy that I am no longer in PC jail. I am in Apple happyland!!! Come join us!

  • Marcy Runkle

    Here’s what I don’t understand: Whenever I’m listening to music on my iPod, I’m never anywhere near Wifi. It’s when I’m in the Subway or walking down the street, or…essentially nowhere near a computer. I also have about 70 gigs of music alone, which doesn’t include movies, TV shows, apps, photos, or anything else they’re talking about here. iPhone and iPads are SO limited in their hard drive space… I’m always dealing with the annoying practice of having to pick and choose songs to go on each device, because there’s certainly no way everything going to fit on all of them. So are they going to start selling, like, Terabyte-sized iPhones? The last thing I want is to download a song and have it automatically transfer to my other devices – there’s no room for anything! Not to mention that at least a third of my music isn’t available on iTunes because it’s obscure classical, musical theatre, or a cappella music that I’ve collected over many years. (Yes, I know, nerdy.) It seems like this Cloud will only work if you have, say, a 500 song library of all Top 40. What am I missing here??

  • Apple Care

    MobileMe goes away in June of 2012. You will be able to carry your MobileMe email address, contacts, etc. into iCloud. More information and detailed instructions coming this Fall.

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