Apple iTunes defined the era of purchasing music online. Is the company now taking the next step toward streaming music?
According to a Bloomberg news report, Apple is said to be in discussions with various music companies to allow unlimited downloads of digital music purchased on iTunes. The deal would also enable a permanent backup of previously purchased music, according to unnamed sources Bloomberg interviewed for the story.
The deal—if it's real—could be a big bonus for heavy iTunes users.
Right now, managing a growing digital library of music, videos and movies across multiple devices isn't easy, since it requires constant synching to a common computer. That can be a chore if you typically buy music on an iPhone, videos on your computer, and then, say, want only some of both types of content on your iPad. And like other data stored on your computer's hard drive, you'll have to rebuild that entire digital media library should your computer crash and you don't have a back-up. (One non-techie Consumer Reports editor had that experience a few years ago.)
It's also worth noting that developments from this supposed deal could yield even more interesting possibilities—especially with consideration of Apple's recent developments and capabilities.
In December 2009, Apple bought—then closed down, four months later—Lala, an online streaming music service. When Apple revamped its iPods and iTunes last September, it added Ping, a Facebook-like social network for sharing musical interests. And in November, its updated iOS mobile operating system gave iPads and iPhones AirPlay, a scheme originally designed to allow Apple TV set-top boxes to stream music from any iTunes device.
Add Apple's MobileMe Web-based storage to the mix, and some might wonder whether Apple has the makings of an online digital media setup that could rival the likes of Pandora or Netflix.
Would a "cloud-based" Apple iTunes store be just what you’re looking for? Or would it lead to an Orwellian situation, where your every purchase and listening moment could be monitored and tracked by Apple and its music industry partners? What do you think?
Apple Negotiating Unlimited Usage of Music Downloads [Bloomberg]
Apple unlimited music downloads: the last step before streaming? [LA Times]
Apple discussing unlimited downloads of purchased songs from iTunes [ZD Net]