updated 07:45 pm EDT, Thu May 26, 2011
iCloud to up quality, Google Music 100m deal leaks
A collection of leaks Thursday night gave added insight into Apple's cloud music plans. Along with backing clues that deals were close, BusinessWeek understood that the song match system wouldn't be too particular and would mirror as much as it could. It would even offer better audio quality if a user's local copy wasn't good enough, three tipsters said.
The move likely wouldn't represent a quality increase as a whole for iTunes, whose 256Kbps AAC songs have been present since Apple removed copy protection. It may however boost the quality for those whose collections are old and still hold many 128Kbps tracks from the older iTunes store and other sources.
The service, unofficially known as iCloud and possibly due to unveil at WWDC, is expected to be an improvement over Amazon Cloud Player and Google Music Beta, where users have to upload their own tracks and, in Google's case, have to transcode files regardless of the format. Apple's method could have some music collections ready for cloud sharing in seconds and would stream to iTunes installs and all iOS devices.
Google had also tried to negotiate a deal like Apple's, but its inability to close may have been more dramatic than thought, a pair of music executives said. The search engine had reportedly been ready to pay as much as $100 million to the labels but was rejected even then. Studios were still convinced that Google was aiding piracy through its search and YouTube by not blocking pirate sites as proactively as they liked.
The company wouldn't acknowledge these details, but Android content partnership head Zahava Levine said Google had been having "mixed results" pressing for more. It was hoping the market share of Android and Google would influence talks, Levine said.
Labels are generally known to have been interested in favoring Google to create a major rival to iTunes, but Apple's success in negotiations and Google's failure may now give iTunes more power than it had before. iTunes cloud access may carry a fee but would be more powerful than Google Music and wouldn't necessarily be cheaper. Google Music Beta is free during testing but may still carry a cost when finished.