Apple Beats Google in the Race to the Music Cloud

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In technology’s newest arms race, it appears Apple may have beaten out Google in the dash to the cloud.

According to a new report from Reuters, Apple has finished working on a new iTunes-based music service that would allow users to transfer their music libraries onto remote servers. In addition to freeing up valuable hard drive space, listeners should theoretically be able to tap into their remote music locker from any place with Internet access and with a number of devices.

Though an Apple spokesperson declined to comment, and if Apple is in fact able to launch their cloud servers first, then this should come as a glancing blow to Google, who already has cloud based storage services in place like Google Docs.

But impeding the companies’ progress are a number of copyright hurdles that must be cleared with major record labels. Amazon, as the first to launch a cloud-based music service, came under fire from the music industry with threats of legal action for not having the proper licensing mechanisms in place. Though agreements with the labels seems to be proceeding, the future of Amazon’s music cloud is still unclear.

If Apple’s music strategy plays out the way the report is indicating, having first-mover advantage with online libraries is big. I doubt that any of the companies — whether it be Apple, Google, or Amazon — will make it easy for users to reallocate their song libraries once they’re in place. Apple clearly has the advantage with its iTunes infrastructure, and if it does indeed make it to the cloud first, Google may have to reassess their online music strategy, which is already hazy to begin with.

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