updated 07:45 am EDT, Thu April 28, 2011
Apple said buying iCloud domain
Apple may have bought iCloud.com [redirect] in a sign it's getting closer to launch its rumored cloud media locker service. Swedish online storage firm Xcerion is rumored to have sold the web address to Apple for $4.5 million and moved over to CloudMe.com on April 5. GigaOM hadn't independently confirmed the deal, but a WHOIS check Thursday morning confirmed Xcerion was for now still officially listed as the iCloud domain owner.
Domain names aren't necessarily a good guess as to Apple plans but sometimes show a passing interest. The company is well known for having owned iPhone.org several years before the first iPhone ever showed. Its moves are sometimes deceptive, as it had the iSlate domain late in 2009 only to name its device the iPad weeks later.
iCloud as such might not necessarily be the name of any Apple service but a buyout to keep options open or to prevent a company with hostile intent from taking it over. Apple nonetheless has a reputation for renaming its cloud services whenever it wants to significantly change strategies. It started first with iTools but rebranded to .Mac later and eventually the current MobileMe.
As described so far, the rumored service would be much more ambitious and could store music, as well as possibly photos and videos, for streaming to an iOS device or another copy of iTunes. Non-media services may go free, but rumors assert that Apple might still charge a fee, even if less than the $99 it asks today.
Any service is believed in part to be a hedge against Google's own strength online, though Apple may unusually beat Google to online media after Google Music talks fell flat. Its strategy would be similar and give Android as well as Chrome OS users access to a remote collection along with a music store.