For Mac fans the patch of land in North Carolina owned by Apple is akin to Area 51: everyone knows it exists, but few know its true purpose. Speculation has centered on some cloud-based service requiring beefy data pipes. While a recent report seemed to suggest the Cupertino, Calif. company doesn’t plan to kill the golden goose with free streaming music, one analyst Tuesday offered a number of possibilities.
According to Bernstein’s Toni Sacconaghi, potential uses for the data center range from expanding Apple’s streaming and advertising business to a voice “interface” based on the tech giant’s recent Siri acquisition.
Among other possibilities is creation of an online storage and synchronization service. Talk has swirled around the tech giant revamping its MobileMe service into an online data ‘locker’ of sorts.
The analyst also includes a streaming service to compete with Spotify and Rhapsody or video streaming ala Netflix. Whatever the use, Apple is devoting a large portion of its budget to IT, such as the NC data center. During fiscal 2010, the Cupertino, Calif. company spent $1.7 billion getting the center ready for an expected spring launch. Putting that in perspective, that amount equals three percent of Apple’s revenue and more than what’s spent by Google, Microsoft and Amazon..