With iCloud set to launch June 6 at the World Wide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has made a deal with Universal Music Group (EPA:VIV), the last record company on its list, for authorized use of their copyrighted music. EMI, Warner Music (NYSE:WMG), and Sony (NYSE:SNE) have all made similar deals with Apple to stream their music to computer browsers and iOS devices via iCloud. Neither Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) nor Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) were able to come to an agreement with record labels for use of copyrighted material for their own cloud music services.
Apple’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iCloud service will allow users to upload their music collections to the internet, where they will be stored in a digital locker, and be accessible for streaming from a variety of different devices. Not only will it allow users to access their own media library via their computer, iPad, or iPhone, but the iCloud will act as back-up storage in case of device loss or failure. It used to be that if your computer crashed or you lost your phone, your music was gone with it. Even music purchased via iTunes could not be restored once lost, and users would have to re-purchase any songs they had lost. But iCloud will be able to circumvent those problems. Reports also say that iCloud will be able to recognize songs with inferior sound quality and replace them with a higher-quality version. And record labels hope that the new cloud services will help stem piracy as well.
Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) have already introduced their cloud services ahead of Apple — Cloud Drive and Music Beta, respectively — but without permission to use their services with copyrighted music, they’re dead in the water. iCloud also has the advantage of being completely free, though that is likely to be only an introductory offer, with Apple ultimately charging a monthly or yearly subscription fee.