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Apple confirms iCloud

Digital music service to be announced June 6

After months of speculation and expectation, Apple has confirmed plans to enter the cloud music space.

The company, in a press release issued Tuesday, said it would reveal iCloud at its Worldwide Developer’s Conference on June 6.

Apple is the biggest company in the digital music space, but has been facing increased competition in the music space from Amazon and Google, both of which have already launched cloud music services. Amazon, in particular, has been aggressively promoting its Cloud Drive, last week slashing the price of Lady Gaga’s new “Born This Way” CD to 99 cents and encouraging shoppers to upload it directly to the cloud.

By buying the under-a-buck CD, users saw their Cloud Drive accounts automatically upgraded to a 20 GB tier. That’s significant in that it lets Amazon establish a customer base before the other services get a foothold.

Cloud storage sites traditionally have been like email accounts for users – once they have taken the time to set up the service and use it a few times (or, in this example, have loaded their files to one), they quickly become embedded and are less likely jump to a competing one.

Apple, however, has a few advantages in the fight. Warner Music Group, Sony Music Group and EMI Group have all reportedly gotten onboard with the Cupertino tech giant. (The status of a deal with Universal Music Group is unclear.)

Neither Amazon nor Google has the record labels on board – and have found themselves spending time trying to retroactively soothe the music giants instead of locking in customers before Apple joins the fray.

While neither Amazon nor Google is a company to be taken lightly, Apple has over 200 million credit cards on file and users have downloaded over 10 billion songs since the launch of iTunes.

By creating a “jukebox in the sky” with cloud technology, the company could easily transfer previous purchases to its data center, letting users access their entire catalog on a variety of devices – without having to worry about uploading them (as users must do with Google and Amazon’s service) and without having to manually add them to multiple devices as they do today.

Apple may be late to this fight, but it was late to the portable music hardware market as well – and that doesn’t seem to have been too impactful on the company.

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