Home Will the Cloud Challenge Apple’s Dynasty?

Will the Cloud Challenge Apple’s Dynasty?

The news may be about the iPad this weekend but it’s the cloud that will hover hot over Apple by the Fall and in many respects challenge its hegemony over how we store and share music and video.

According to CNET, that’s about the time of year that it looks like Apple will unveil its cloud-based music service.

In the meantime we are seeing a number of storage services emerge for the iPad that could be used for people to store their music and other media. Yesterday, we looked at the Box.net app. Dropbox has an iPad app as does SugarSync.

And then there are the forces that are not tethered to the iPad at all.

Last week, Canonical started a public beta for its cloud-based music service.

Most cloud-based services allow you to store your own music in the cloud. With Canonical, you purchase your music through its music store that syncs with your device and your own personal cloud. That means you control your

Apple appears to be looking at a similar strategy, allowing consumers to store music and movies in the cloud, albeit the media being that from the major labels and even more so, the studios. Will they go for it? Well, a long time ago, perhaps, but with the options available, the studios, have far more possibilities to pursue.

But how can the Apple strategy work in a cloud built on open-source? Apple’s Fair Play digital rights management software is intended to keep music, movies and other entertainment locked down so it can not be shared. It’s in contrast to the open-nature of cloud computing that we see with services that allow for online storage lockers. People will find ways to store and organize data in the way they wish. That makes sense for a number of reasons:

  • People have media on multiple devices. Keeping it in the cloud makes it easier to access.
  • Syncing to the cloud makes sense. Cables? Dongles? That’s old school. You can update a file in the cloud and see that same update on your smart phone.
  • If a number of people have their own personal clouds than that means we can share, right? Yes it does!

It’s that last point that must give Apple a bit of a chill. For years, iTunes seemed like the only option. But Apple has locked down its hardware, software and the content. In league with the labels and studios, Apple has used DRM to get its leverage at the expense of us all.

Will that strategy continue to work? Well, it’s going to take a while but all these storage providers know that those home videos can bloat a hard drive pretty fast.

Or maybe just maybe, Steve will put the screws back in the iPad, give us the schematics and let us all see what we really can do with that tablet.

He’ll then thank Cory Doctorow for waking him up and sure enough we’ll all wonder if we had just fallen into a hot tub time machine.

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