Where's The iTunes Streaming? It Would Have Crushed the Carriers

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Many readers were perplexed by the lack of an iTunes streaming music service at yesterday's WWDC keynote. Apple instead launched iTunes Match -- a service that allows users to get the same "download anywhere" benefits from songs they have ripped from CD's (or, ahem, *acquired* from other sources) as songs they have purchased from the iTunes Music Store.

iTunes Cloud
As All Things Digital's Peter Kafka put it:

Apple will take the songs you've stolen, and turn them into legit files, with big music's blessing.

Awesome. But, users still have to download songs to their iDevices, and if you have a ton of music, that can be a pain. Many observers expected iCloud would include a music streaming service, a la Lala -- but it didn't. Why?

Because it would have killed the carriers. Erica Naone writes in the Technology Review:

A streaming version of iTunes could have hugely increased the amount of data that carriers would be expected to carry. The largest carriers in the U.S., AT&T and Verizon, both cancelled their unlimited plan in June 2010. T-Mobile and Sprint both still offer unlimited plans. Today, T-Mobile says, the average 4G smart-phone user consumes about a gigabyte of data per month. That number could change significantly if a popular service like iTunes truly moved to the cloud.

With Apple selling nearly 20 million iPhones per quarter, launching a major streaming music platform that every iPhone user would instantly start using would quite literally overload the carriers. It would be like Manhattan or San Francisco, only everywhere. And what's the point of a streaming music service if you can't get a signal?

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120 months ago
Seems like the obvious solution would have been to include streaming on wifi only (and on computers), but people would whine about that too. No matter what they do, someone will complain, but this service will likely still be a big hit. And down the road when the networks can handle it, they'll upgrade the feature.

Everyone already streams Pandora, Napster, Youtube, etc...


"Everyone" doesn't stream Pandora or Napster by any stretch of the imagination. Maybe 5 or 10 percent of iPhone users? Put streaming audio in the bundled apps and that probably jumps to 90%.

There's a difference between allowing something that's data heavy but only used by a few power users and making something that's data heavy a prominent feature.

I'd be vaguely interested to see the stats, but I can't imagine for one second that 'most people's' digital collections are too big for an iPhone, let alone an iPad. Out of interest, have YOU got more than 64gb of music?


Not just music, apps and particularly movies (which can be HD) can eat up that space quickly.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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120 months ago

I'm a bit disappointed at the lack of streaming from iCloud. How would it kill the carriers? People use Rhapsody and Napster and the carriers are fine. How is it different from streaming tons of Netflix? Obviously it will eat away your data plan, but really what's the difference? iCloud is cool without a doubt, but "it'll kill the carrier" is a pretty weak answer.


Mobile carriers, not ISPs. You won't stream Netflix over 3G like you would your music. Streaming videos over 3G is a painful, horrible experience, while with much less bandwidth you can get perfect audio quality, therefore you'd be streaming gigabytes of music per month instead of that one time you tried to watch a TV show over 3G.

Think about it; AT&T already bitches enough having to carry only a few kilobits per second per phone. Imagine if that jumped to a few hundred kilobits per second per phone because Apple saw fit to enable iTunes streaming.
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120 months ago

Apple will take the songs you've stolen, and turn them into legit files, with big music's blessing.


At least the labels will get something for that pirated music.
And will get a little something more for legally ripped music. :)
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120 months ago

How would it kill the carriers? People use Rhapsody and Napster and the carriers are fine.

The difference is that not that many people use Rhapsody and Napster, especially on mobile devices. If every iPhone user began using a streaming music service for all their streaming needs (as a streaming iCloud would be meant for), it honestly would be more than the network could handle.

As to why they didn't offer it Wi-Fi only? That I can't answer.
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120 months ago

No sir you do not. Maybe 489 MB. 489GB would be around 80,000 songs. There is no way in hell you even know close to that number of songs. Understood? Good.


see previous reply. THAT WOULD BE AT LEAST 190,000 songs. there is no way in hell you have that many. maybe you have a lot of movies or something in there. I also want you to realize that not even the high end 17-inch macbook prop has a hard drive that big. LEARN YOUR FACTS! it's 890mb or you have like several hundred movies in there.


What if the music was lossless?
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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120 months ago

And you need all of that every time you leave the house?

P-Worm


Obviously not...and in no way did my comment suggest that. :cool:
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