News, technology

Does Apple Have the Wrong Idea About the Future of Music?

Alex Moore :: Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010 10:30 am

The music streaming service Lala was shut down yesterday as Apple promised it would be, just five months after acquiring it for $80 million, raising speculation as to what Apple plans to do with the technology.

Do you miss it? Neither do we. We thought Lala’s pay-per-stream subscription service was convoluted and over-complicated. Which is why we fear that for once Apple may have the wrong idea about the future of music.

It’s been widely speculated that Apple will use Lala’s music hosting platform to introduce a cloud computing service that would allow users to upload music they already own in their iTunes libraries, and then stream it from different devices anywhere they have internet access.

The problem with this is that it defeats the whole point of the cloud. The beauty of the cloud is that I don’t have to carry things on my hard drive. I don’t need to own music. I just want to listen to it. Sure, maybe a collection of old vinyl obtained piece by piece at old flea markets is something to get attached to. But a bunch of mp3’s? All an mp3 does is cost me money, take up hard drive space, and give me more crap to organize. And I can barely keep my apartment clean.

What the future of music needs is one truly cloud-ready subscription service where users can pay a monthly subscription fee to organize and listen to all the world’s music from any of their devices, kind of like Netflix. The only downfall to this model is that you can’t put the music on your hard drive. But as internet speeds and coverage increase, that problem becomes irrelevant.

This service basically already exists in the form of Rhapsody. Rhapsody’s current iPhone app allows you to stream music, obviating the old problem of not being able to take music with you on your iPod, and even lets you download streams for offline playing if you lose your cell signal. The problem with Rhapsody is that it’s buggy as hell and crashes constantly. But Apple clearly has the chops to make this kind of thing work smoothly, and they already have access to all the music.

Next week is Apple’s WWDC conference and rumors are flying that the company will announce a new music service to rise from the grave of Lala. Will they unveil a true cloud streaming service for the future of music, or will they follow in Lala’s misguided footsteps and make you stream from yourself? Let us know what you think.