Apple finally acknowledged its much-anticipated iCloud this week. Sort of. Actually, this week’s acknowledgement was more of a pre-announcement, as they said it would be officially announced and detailed next week. It was more akin to Republican leaders recently announcing exploratory committees for presidential campaigns that will be launched months later.
I’m no technovangelist, though I do have VERY strong opinions on technology and various technological corporations. I like what I like, and I know the pros and cons of the options (those I choose and those I don’t). Beyond that I lose the passion. I don’t have a need to convince others to use an iPhone over an Android. The cultish technological arguments that flood my Twitter and Facebook feeds consistently make me nauseous. But I must stand and defend Apple before the quasi-hipster-anti-iCloud tirade floods tech news and social networks.
In short, iCloud is expected to serve two purposes: 1) an upgrade to the cloud-based MobileMe, and 2) a subscription-based cloud music service. While appearing to be the last of the pack to hit the scene (Google and Amazon are already semi-operational), iCloud’s imminence caused Google and Amazon to hurry their rollouts. So much so that Google launched the beta version of its service without the record labels’ permission. Apple, on the other hand, has been in talks with the record companies for months and has apparently finalized publishing contracts to legitimately and legally place personal music libraries in the cloud.
The MobileMe upgrade really isn’t the focus here, but in full disclosure, I am a MobileMe subscriber. Yes, I pay $99/year for it. And yes, I get my money’s worth. (But, let me reiterate, I don’t really care if you use it or not – that doesn’t affect me whatsoever.) I pay for safe, secure, ad- and spam-free email and cloud service. Furthermore, as a bonus, my data is not sold to advertisers. Very exciting! [Note: The one time I had a technical issue, I instant messaged with a real human who corrected the problem within minutes. Many free services don’t offer this – you have to hope for the best, whining via Twitter in the interim. I realize it’s not for everyone. But if you regularly switch between multiple personal computers and portable devices, it works wonders.]
Regarding the cloud-based music service, you can read the various tech specs elsewhere. What I’d like to emphasize here is the monetization aspect. Myriad complaints have already surfaced that Apple will bundle this service in with MobileMe/iCloud, consequently requiring either a flat annual fee (as it is now), or possibly via rolling monthly subscriptions. Before you sneer and run to Google (never evil? really? ha!) or Amazon, keep in mind that Apple’s agreement with the various record companies comes with a nine-digit up-front price tag ($100,000,000). Sure, executives at Apple and Sony live comfortable lives and don’t need our financial assistance. But the artists who create and perform the music we enjoy DO! (A big reason Google doesn’t have licensing agreements with the major labels is because Google doesn’t want to sidestep the illegal-download-havens that are P2P communities.) Like the aforementioned executives, U2 and Green Day are financially set. No handouts required. However, the countless road acts and up-and-comers out there rely on the emotional, social, and financial participation of its fans for survival. And so if people are going to enjoy Road Act X’s music at home and now in the cloud, Road Act X should be compensated accordingly. Unless, of course, the band decides against it. That’s their right also. (Also in full disclosure, I don’t foresee myself utilizing the “music cloud” too much. I prefer my portable devices and local copies.)
As stated above, I like what I like. And as this entry’s title and this blog as a whole state, I pay for what I like.
Most of the people I know are musicians, or at least musically-inclined. Sadly, these are the same people whose whining will flood my social network feeds. Some are even composers – people who should love the idea of publishing royalties. Yet, unfortunately, I fear most will continue lobbying to live in this so-called “economy of the free.” Blech.
I maintain: pay for what you like.