August 14, 2022

Apple Unveils ‘Cloud’ Music and Storage Service

Mr. Jobs said the new, free service, iCloud, would replace the personal computer as the central hub of people’s digital lives — storing photos, music and documents. Relying on the PC, he said, no longer works now that millions of people have multiple devices, each with photos, documents, songs, phone applications and other files.

“Keeping these devices in sync is driving us crazy,” Mr. Jobs said, speaking at the opening day of Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference. “We have a great solution for this problem. We are going to demote the PC to just be a device. We are going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud.”

Mr. Jobs added, “Everything happens automatically and there is nothing new to learn.”

At the center of iCloud is a new version of iTunes that will allow users to download on any device any song they have ever purchased. Songs that were not purchased from iTunes can be added for $25 a year, Mr. Jobs said.

The iCloud service also works with documents, apps and photos through a new service, Photo Stream. And it will replace MobileMe, a failed $99-a-year service that allowed people to synchronize their calendar, e-mail and contacts across devices.

At the event, Mr. Jobs and other top Apple officials also showcased new versions of Apple’s Macintosh and iOS operating systems, which include scores of new features.

With iCloud, Apple wants to make it easier for the 200 million iTunes users to listen to their entire music collections on PCs, iPads, iPhones and iPods. Until now, people had to manually transfer songs among devices by syncing them with their PCs. Under the new system, Apple will scan people’s iTunes libraries and then offer access to any song in those libraries over the Internet.

A linchpin of the service is that Apple has reached deals with the major record labels and music publishers to license their recordings. Amazon and Google offer similar services. But because those two companies did not obtain licenses from the labels, users have to upload their own music libraries — and any new song purchases — to the Web before they can listen to them from multiple devices. And that process can take hours, if not days, for people with large collections.

By cementing the deals with the music industry, Apple is able to save users that time-consuming step. What’s more, Apple, which is already the world’s largest distributor of music, is expected to find a ready audience in its millions of iTunes users, virtually guaranteeing that its service will leapfrog the offerings from Amazon and Google.

But music is only one part of Apple’s iCloud service. At the presentation at the Moscone Center West, Mr. Jobs laid out a vision in which the cloud would play a far more central role in all aspects of people’s digital life, from e-mail to the viewing of photos and video.

Apple typically keeps its new products under tight wraps until they are unveiled. But in an unusual move, the company said last week that it would use Monday’s event to update the Macintosh and iOS operating systems and introduce iCloud. Some analysts said Apple’s pre-announcement was meant to put to rest fevered speculation that it would introduce a new version of the iPhone. Since Apple first announced the iPhone in 2007, it has introduced a revamped version every year, in June or July. But analysts said the next version of the iPhone is not ready and would not be announced until later this year or sometime next year.

Apple’s more aggressive move into so-called “cloud computing” services has been expected for some time. Apple has built a 500,000-square-foot data center in North Carolina that opened earlier this year. Mr. Jobs showed pictures of the data center, which will power iCloud, as evidence that Apple was “serious” about the new services.

Ben Sisario contributed reporting from New York.

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