updated 08:05 am EDT, Tue August 3, 2010
Apple may have modest online music post-Lala
Apple's cloud-based iTunes services aren't likely to be as ambitious if launched this year and are switching to video, sources said late Monday. Major labels have been told that a 2010 plan would be "modest in scope" and wouldn't include storing music directly on Apple's servers. Previous rumors had hinted at more conventional streaming that would either use Apple's own copies of content or stream content from the user's own computer to an iPhone or similar device.
Instead, CNET was told that the former Lala team is working on an "undisclosed video feature." What that would entail isn't stated, but Apple executives including Internet lead Eddy Cue weren't clear on what was asked of the acquired team for some time. One of the four key executives hired on in the takeover has reportedly already left.
The new, more video-centric strategy is likely to focus around the rumored redesigned Apple TV. With only 16GB of built-in storage, most movies and TV shows would have to stream, either over the local network or from iTunes. Apple's North Carolina data center due by the end of the year may play a role as it could provide the large amounts of bandwidth and clustered processor performance needed to push up to 1080p. The location is already nicknamed The Orchard by some at Apple.
Both music and video services may be important to Apple as its mobile rival Google may launch Google Music by November, offering both downloadable tracks and remote streaming to Android phones. YouTube also has a young rental service, but it lacks true mobile support and doesn't have the major content deals already in place at iTunes. Google isn't considered a large threat to Apple at present in either area, but music labels in particular have been known to give special favors to Amazon and other stores to pressure Apple into giving more favorable terms.