Today was WDCC, which meant Apple’s execs stormed around on screens re-igniting our passion for e-mail clients and other boring stuff (or really, just getting their iOS features to parity with Android). The big Kahuna (or Kahlua. …anyone?) personally was the announcement of the iTunes Match feature of Apple’s new cloud-storage functionality. While it’s not anything like a Zune Pass and it’s been years since I’ve used iTunes regularly, it got me thinking: who are they pitching this to, really?
What is this crazy thing?
In essence, iTunes Match is a big, external hard drive for your music, except it’s on the internet. Amazon and Google have already launched similar efforts, but let’s be fair, because Apple did it, it’s instantly cool. (Right?) The service is $25 a year and you start by taking all the content you’ve ripped or purchased over the years, let iTunes scan it, and the service will:
– Attempt to match your music with the 18 million songs already in the iTunes library
– Whatever it finds, they’ll allow you to download a 256k-quality version on any Apple device or computer with iTunes (which seems silly to me considering I’ve ripped at 384k for some time.)
– Whatever it can’t match, it’ll just let you download back to the same devices.
Is this really a big deal?
Not really. If anything, this is a $25 warranty on your iTunes purchases. Whereas a really cool service like Zune allows you to re-download the music you’ve bought at any time, iTunes gives you a 30-day window after purchase and if you lose it, well good luck. This isn’t the subscription-based product that I felt iTunes needed to one-up the Zune Pass. This isn’t a ‘leasing’ program like that is, there’s no music discovery, so on. Granted, Apple’s hardly scared of Zune’s features, but it doesn’t make the mess that is called ‘iTunes’ a better music player and doesn’t make the iPod a better music player, it’s really just peace of mind. I’m sure if you’ve got a ton of CDs… well, that doesn’t matter anyway, you still have to rip them all first. The point is that a local hard drive failure isn’t going to kill your entire library. For some, that’s probably worth the $25/year.
Of course, hopefully you’re a loyal iTunes user in the first place.