On the Road Again
One of the best things Lala did was make it painless and inexpensive to create a brand-new cloud-based music library, by offering “internet-only” tracks for as little as 10¢ apiece.
Apple would be crazy not to replicate this feature, which would likely bring brand new customers in the door as well as attract users who might be skeptical of having their personal record collections “scanned” to the idea of inexpensively building a kind of “on-the-road” extended playlist.
Look for cheap pricing on tracks that will live only in the cloud — meaning you won’t be able to download them to your local iTunes library — and look for this to be a hugely successful feature of the iCloud offering.
And in this corner…
Surely Apple isn’t unveiling iCloud merely to immediately overshadow Amazon’s and Google’s recently-launched cloud-music offerings. There’s got to be another prize in the company’s sights, no?
Well, how about Facebook?
One of Lala’s compelling aspects that never got off the ground was social networking functionality that allowed users to “friend” one another and “like” various music selections their contacts and others had in playlists, or were listening to at any one moment in time. It was a promising vehicle for crowd-sourcing the discovery of new music — as well as for finding community with like-eared souls.
Let the number of music videos posted on Facebook in your own timeline be your guide to the potential viability of a service that lets people not simply share a link to a YouTube video, but share a link to a music track they can add to their permanent collection for as little as one thin dime.
Consider too, whether iCloud will replicate another of Lala’s greatest features: any user could listen to any track in Lala’s 6 million song database all the way through, one time. No 30-second-preview-please-give-me-a-friggin-break garbage.
With built-in social networking that lets users find and friend one another, lets them share links to full songs they can investigate and enjoy, and then buy — for a dime to keep in the cloud, or for full-price to add to their iTunes library — iCloud promises a new, rosy dawn may rise on the recording industry.
And the embarrassment that is Ping may be forgotten forever.
And in the end…
Heaven knows, there are plenty of iCloud details the crystal ball cannot, or need not reveal. Bitrates. Storage limits. Free, paid and Premium plans. Will iCloud be just about music, or videos too? Just about sound and motion media, or photos too? Documents? Collaboration?
It’s all fair game, isn’t it?
And — let no one forget the debacle that was the initial roll-out of MobileMe (the service iCloud will ostensibly replace); hopefully Apple has looked at clouds from both sides now and will somehow manage to put yet another indelible ding in the universe for Steve Jobs.
With WWDC and Mr. Jobs’ keynote address now just days away, there’s only one game in town as far as Apple news and information goes – and that game is called Rank Speculation.
T’was ever thus and so it shall ever be, at least until things come full circle and Apple turns irreparably into Microsoft. By then, Steve Jobs will be long gone and the media will have a different object for its prognostication obsessions.