In the past few weeks, Apple has been making headlines for potentially stonewalling the efforts of every single subscription music service in the market. Quite serendipitously, it has now been announced that their $1 billion data center in Maiden, N.C., is expected to open this spring and will be used to support iTunes and MobileMe.
Due to Apple's acquisition of Lala, the recent move against rival services, and the data center, it's believed that the company will soon offer web-based streaming access to iTunes content and maybe even a subscription based service. Prior reports have also suggested this service could be "available as early as June."
If Apple does enter the subscription music sector and holds firm on their tax, the landscape will be fundamentally different. While Rhapsody has been attempting to crack the subscription market for nearly a decade, they're not Apple. Rhapsody doesn't have the marketing muscle or cult-like brand status they do either.
Plus, Apple is known for its uncanny ability to offer consumers things that they didn't know they wanted and in a way that makes it seem like they invented it.
Think about that for a second.
If Steve Jobs feels like it, he can invent subscription music – tomorrow. He can convince millions of users to sign up. And he has forged the landscape in a way that positions his service on top no matter what rival services accomplish. Apple will always be more integrated and cheaper than anyone else on the market will.
As other services grow and take on new subs, Apple can utilize their 30% profit cut to out-market and innovate them at every corner. Like I've said in the past, it's become increasingly apparent that no matter what strategy rival companies have, Apple still owns the board beneath them and will do whatever it pleases with it.
That's the harsh reality everyone is waking up to. Apple owns the App Store (not to mention the iPod, iPhone, and iPad), not you. And not once did it forgot that.
Welcome to the next Big Apple.