By its own admission, Apple will reveal its “upcoming cloud services offering,” iCloud, on June 6th. The news was released on Tuesday, as the Cupertino-based company looks to build hype ahead of its Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off next week in San Francisco.
Of course, iOS 5 will also be coming along for the ride. And it’s where these two new pieces of Apple software meet that provides the greatest intrigue ahead of WWDC.
iCloud is widely believed to be a music streaming service, offering Spotify-style access to tunes for a monthly fee, as well as the chance to store your own library in a specially built digital locker. But beyond that, it’s also set to replace the somewhat average MobileMe too. At least some of it is expected to be free, giving iPhone users the chance to have Mac email addresses and a place to store files and info in the cloud.
The service’s implementation on iOS 5 will be vital in ensuring the iPhone’s future success against Google Android. Apple will need to offer a service so simple that there’s just no need to break out of their ecosystem and plump for an Android phone instead.
Already it has a major advantage over Google. The Big G’s new music service has been launched in the US without the backing of the major labels, meaning there’s no paid-for service, just the chance to stream your own tracks that have been stored on Google’s servers.
Admittedly the implementation of this is very good. But Apple is said to have inked deals with two of the major labels, with the two others very close to signing on the dotted line. That means Spotify-style streaming and a whole new headache for Google.
Patents have suggested iOS 5 devices will cache a small opening section of each song stored in iCloud, meaning there’ll be no buffering when users flick between tracks. It’s a very smart idea and one which you’d have thought Google would have loved to include with its music service.
As it is, iCloud will bring something to the table that rivals can’t compete with. Apple is number one when it comes to music retail, and iCloud’s musical credentials will give iOS 5 a decent edge over Android. No matter how Google improves, music is still Android’s blind spot and iTunes, for all its faults, makes everything easier.
iCloud will tie even more users into Apple’s ecosystem. As that happens, it will be the smart choice for those who love consuming music on the move. A new front is about to open in the mobile OS wars and Steve Jobs looks to have stolen the initiative.