Nothing makes me yearn for death like following an Apple product launch live via Twitter. Other companies have to take out adverts, or concoct marketing plans, in order to hawk their wares. Not Apple. They know they can rely on their brigade of wheezing fanboys in the media to do all the work for them.
Consequently, you’ll no doubt already have heard about Apple’s latest suite of snazzy iThings, of which the least tedious is iCloud, a remote storage dealy that enables you to sync your music to numerous devices and listen to it on the go. You know, like you already do with Spotify.
Of course tech hacks lapped this up like slack-jawed rubes applauding a televangelist. Cue acres of uncritical coverage. It’s tempting to conclude that Steve Jobs could unbuckle his comfy jeans, flop out his wang, and spray the entire front row with an arc of scalding piss, and some doofus from Mashable would still pronounce it a game changer.
There’s something creepy about all this gleeful worship of money and power. At one point reporters on Twitter started parroting Jobs’ show-off statistics. 25 million iPads sold! 15 billion tracks sold on iTunes!
Well, great. Imma happy for you, Apple shareholders - but isn’t the role of journalists to question corporate braggadocio, rather than cravenly trumpet it as news?
But anyway. Beyond the slobbering hype there are five things about iCloud that are genuinely Quite Interesting. And here they are.
1. iTunes Match = an amnesty on piracy!
That’s one way of looking at it anyway. The regular iCloud service is free. But for $24.99 a year (no UK prices have been announced) you get iTunes Match, which enables you to upload any old “ripped” MP3 - no matter where it came from. Apple will then replace it with the equivalent legal track from iTunes.
How will Apple know if the original was ripped from a purchased CD or just downloaded from Limewire? I don’t see that it can. In which case, that’s a pretty radical move: $25 dollars to clear your conscience and wipe the slate clean on your illegal downloading ways. Bargain.
2. Sync to multiple devices. As long as they're Apple ones
Steve Jobs, he’s a one. “You know, it’s the same old story,” he said during the launch. “I buy something on my iPhone. And it’s not on my other devices.”
Er, yeah. We know that feeling Steve, because Apple famously prevents its customers from using its products on non-Apple platforms (I once spent £20 on an eBook from iTunes which I then couldn’t play on my Kindle or Android phone - cheers!).
So, yes. iCloud will enable you to upload your music to the great server in the sky and let you listen to it on iPad and iPhone, as well as your PC. But on your Google smartphone? Good luck with that.
3. It’s faster than Google Music Beta or Amazon’s Cloud Player
Not that either of those competing cloud music services are available in the UK yet (so what do I know?). But word is that they’re a ball-ache to use, since it can take up to a day to upload 1000 songs. iCloud is zippier because Apple already has so much of the world’s music on file, as it were.
It’s cheaper than Amazon, too - to store 20,000 songs on Cloud Player is likely to cost you at least £50 a year. By contrast, Google Music Beta will almost certainly be free.
4. The labels might not try to nobble it
The launch of Google Music Beta last month was so apologetic. No-one from the company actually said, “Look, sorry, this was going to be good, but the major labels fucked us over, which is why it so obviously suuucks.” But you could tell that’s what they meant.
Apple’s iCloud launch, by contrast, was full of confidence. Do they have the music industry’s blessing? It would seem so. Even though Apple have bullied the majors for years, they're evidently the lesser of a number of tech-giant evils. Insider gossip is that the major labels thought they hated Apple… until they tried dealing with Google and Amazon.
5. It marks the end of ownership
No more CDs! No more MP3s! We’re free at last, free to float in the cloud forever! Except of course it doesn’t mean that at all. People will go on collecting vinyl, romanticising mixtapes. iCloud is not a game changer. It’s just a thing, which some people will use and others won’t. It’s only technology. Let’s not go nuts over it. Jeez.
PS - You're probably wondering when this will be available in the UK. The answer is it doesn't even have a release date, beyond 'coming this Fall'. Which makes you wonder why everyone in the press is banging on about it now, really.