Early in today's presentation at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, Steve Jobs dropped impressive new stats including 15 billion songs sold on iTunes and 225 million accounts with credit cards on file and 1-click purchasing. Against that impressive backdrop, Jobs and Apple began a long list of upgrades and new product announcements including a new iOS 5 operating system and a music app for iPads. Near the very end of the keynote Jobs & Co. unveiled the much anticipated iCloud and real surprise - iTunes Match.
The iTunes In The Cloud & iTunes Match
The iCloud & Free iTunes In The Cloud
The iCloud is more than about music. In addition to upgraded iCloud enabled apps for daily tasks like calendars and new apps for photos and document sharing, Apple unveiled iTunes In The Cloud, a free service that makes tracks purchased on iTunes automatically available on all Apple connected devices. iTunes In The Cloud will starting working later today on iOS 4.3. devices.
Apple is ready to ramp iCloud in its three data centers, including the third recently completed in Maiden, NC where they invested $500 million.
Acknowledging that most fans have songs on their hard drives and iPods that weren't purchased on iTunes, Apple announced iTunes Music Match, which scans a users music collection comparing it to 18 million songs on iTunes for $24.99 a year regardless of the size of the collection,
By scanning the user's music collection with iTunes Match, Apple appears to have one upped both Google and Amazon on speed and ease of use. iTunes Match replaces existing music with a 256 kbps AAC DRM-free version if Apple can match it. That makes the matched music available in minutes and uploads only unmatched music. What happens to these "replaced files", if you stop paying $24.99 a year is not yet clear.
iTunes Match will be available this fall for the $24.99 annual fee. Apple today released a free beta version of iTunes in the Cloud, without iTunes Match, for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users running iOS 4.3. iTunes in the Cloud will support all iPhones that iOS 5 supports when it is released in the fall.