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Why Can't iCloud Stream?

6:00 PM -- Amid all the gratuitous applause for iCloud on Monday, did Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) mention streaming?

I don't think they did, and that's interesting, given that a lot of the pre-launch excitement was around the possibility of a streaming service. The ability to create your own Pandora station out of your own collection seemed like a great feature to offer.

But it's not there yet. One explanation, as noted in MIT Technology Review on Monday, is that Apple is concerned about the end of unlimited data plans.

It certainly isn't because Apple is worried about what happens to the network. Its relationship with AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has always seemed like one of master to sled dog. But data-plan caps would affect the users, the Mac devotees, and a streaming music service could wreck the iCloud music experience.

That's because of streaming music's special power: It gets left on. iPhone users probably won't accidentally leave the stream running the way wireline users do with Pandora, but still -- the bits would add up. The Technology Review article refers to AT&T and T-Mobile numbers saying one hour of music per day equates to 1 to 1.5 Gbytes per month.

Still, that doesn't seem like a reason to hold back the streaming service. My guess would be that Apple has hit some snag with publishers and/or music labels. But does that make sense, either? Already, iCloud opens the possibility of laundering illegally obtained music, as one reader puts it. How much worse could a streaming service be?

Whatever the reason, iCloud's music locker seems a lot like a hard disk in the sky -- exactly the thing Steve Jobs said he didn't want the cloud to be. There has to be a streaming plan in the works. It wouldn't be surprising to see Apple add that feature in a few months.

For a full listing of our iCloud and IOS 5 coverage, click here. — Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:02:52 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

 


The reason is simple.  At that point, you would not be locked into IOS devices.  You could use Android phones.  The whole point of a walled garden is not to open it up. :)


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paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:02:51 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

 


Phil,


That is my exact point.  What is really desired is a cloud storage of content to arbitrary devices within the home or from the cloud.  The cloud advantage is storage and backup over home.  There are disadvantages as well.


But if you have your IOS devices synched with your iTunes storage then the play can be local to whatever device.


I think Apple recognizes that if it defeats the need for the IOS device to be part of the system then people can shift away from the device.  Also, they don't want to do a Pandora style service as it would compete with iTunes.  So, they are trying to ride a fine line of not canabalizing their existing businesses.  Amazon has no equivalent business so is fine with nuking iTunes into the ground.


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paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:02:51 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

 


So why are you streaming to your device that has all your content loaded on it?


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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:02:51 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

Welll... not sure that explains it. I was kind of *expecting* an IOS-only stream. Wouldn't take much for Apple to implement that.


I'm leaning towards the theory that it's a business issue with the record labels. iTunes does still have restrictions, like the limit on how many times you can burn a song to CD ... there's probably something about streaming that record labels think they should get paid for.  (I'm not saying that makes sense; I'm just trying to think like a record label here.)

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:02:51 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

Storage isn't an issue for most people, most of the time, when dealing with songs at 256k so I can understand why they skipped any sort of streaming features.


That said, the Airplay feature, in a home network, is underrated. Devices stream back and forth to one another and you never have to plug anything into the TV to watch it or into the stereo to listen to it.


Of course, they're all iOS devices, but what did you expect?

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:02:50 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

Yes, I totally agree. I love my Apple stuff, but would love just as much to incorporate something Android or Windows into the mix as well.


The only drawback is that it is completely impossible with today's devices and OSes.


The Airfoil app, on the right combo of devices, can you get Pandora all over the house, but that's about it:


http://www.rogueamoeba.com/air...

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:02:50 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

I am uploading stuff to Amazon's service and will provide a review when I can.


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Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 5:02:49 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

> So why are you streaming to your device that has all your content loaded on it?


I'm not.  I'm talking about accessing content on a second device -- otherwise, iCloud is just a big backup closet that most people won't bother using.


Longer-term, I'm picturing a day when people buy things from iTunes and never download them anywhere.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 5:02:49 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

Cool. Drop me a line and we can format it along with some other cloudy things we're doing.


 


Again, shocking that service providers haven't done something straightforward as a hook to keep broadband subscribers happy (and using lots of bandwidth).

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 5:02:48 PM
re: Why Can't iCloud Stream?

I understand what you are saying Craig, but at the end of the day downloading/streaming ONLY to IOS devices seems very limiting to me.  Apple was good in the past at making a relatively closed ecosystem work for them on a profit basis.  On a volume basis, they always ended up losing to PCs because of this. 


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