Apple unveils iTunes Match trying to be leading player in cloud-based music service

11:04, June 07, 2011      

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Apple's Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address during the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, the United States, June 6, 2011. Steve Jobs on Monday took a break from his medical leave to introduce the company's new cloud-based service iCloud. (Xinhua/Qi Heng)

As fierce competition flares up in the cloud-based music service market, Apple on Monday unveiled iTunes Match, the music part of its cloud storage service iCloud, which has the potential to beat early comers like Google and Amazon and stand out as a leading player.

For many people, Apple is taken, by default, as a natural market leader due to its dominant position in the music download business. Scott Forstall, head of Apple's iOS software, said in Monday's keynote speech at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco that the company has sold more than 15 billion songs in the iTunes music store.

After transforming the music industry with the launch of iTunes store in 2003, Apple, in many industry watchers' eyes, could reignite the sector under the current trend of cloud computing and take it to the next level when the traditional model of downloading is showing signs of age.

First of all, Apple made all four major music labels (Universal, EMI, Sony and Warner) on board. Unlike Google and Amazon without the blessing of the industry, Apple only needs to keep one copy of each song in its cloud server, eliminating the uploading work for users and redundancies for servers. The uploading work is only needed when song files are not matched in the 18-million-song iTunes store.

Talking about competitors like Amazon and Google, Apple CEO Steve Jobs on Monday said that Apple offers users "the same benefits as music purchased from iTunes in minutes not weeks."

Last Friday, The New York Post reported that Apple paid between 100 million and 150 million U.S. dollars to the four major music labels in advance as an incentive to get them on board. The report cited music industry sources as saying that the size of the advance payments has been a major hold-up for Google, which now will likely have to pony up higher fees to get a rival cloud service into action.

Second, Apple offers better free and paid plans. By contrast, Amazon offers customers five gigabytes of free storage which equates to approximately 2,000 songs and a 20-dollar paid plan for 20 gigabytes, while Sony's Music Unlimited offers a commercial- free subscription for 9.99 dollars per month.

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