Digital Retail Rumbles: Sony Mulls Dropping Out Of iTunes, Apple Applies For Music Cloud Tech
February 10, 2011 at 11:43 AM (PT)
The volatile world of digital music could get even more tumultuous in the coming days and week. DIGITAL LIFE reports that SONY is seriously considering the removal of its artists from APPLE's iTUNES store, as well as withholding its games from the iPHONE. Meanwhile, APPLE has applied for a patent for a system that could implement a music cloud service.
SONY's move against APPLE would complement its plans to launch MUSIC UNLIMITED, a competitor to iTUNES, in AUSTRALIA soon. Also debuting in that Continent later this year is a service that would enable mobile phone users to pay and play first-generation PLAYSTATION games on their handsets. The head of SONY's games unit in AUSTRALIA said it was unlikely to be available on the iPHONE or through iTUNES.
Does Sony Music need to provide content to iTunes? ... Currently we do. We have to provide it to iTunes as that's the format right now ... Publishers are being held to ransom by Apple and they are looking for other delivery systems, and we are waiting to
The SONY/APPLE relationship soured two weeks ago, when APPLE blocked SONY's electronic book application from the iPHONE because it would have bypassed APPLE's system for buying content.
When discussing the viability of MUSIC UNLIMITED, SONY COMPUTER ENTERTAINMENT CEO MICHAEL EPHRAIM said, "If we do [get mass acceptance] then does SONY MUSIC need to provide content to iTUNES? ... Currently we do. We have to provide it to iTUNES as that's the format right now ... Publishers are being held to ransom by APPLE and they are looking for other delivery systems, and we are waiting to see what the next three to five years will hold."
Clouds On Apple's Horizon?
APPLE could blur the lines between locally saved media files and additional content streamed from the cloud, listing all files as if they are part of the same media library on a device like an iPHONE or a MAC.
Meanwhile, APPLEINSIDER found a new patent application from Apple entitled "Audio Clips for Announcing Remotely Accessed Media Items," which details a system that would include a centralized list of media files -- files that could be saved locally or remotely. This would enable users of a cloud-based iTUNES music streaming service "to seamlessly merge their locally saved media files with additional content available for streaming via the Internet. Rather than having a separate list of cloud-based content, all of the media would be listed in one location, and the Internet-connected device would play back the selected content from the appropriate location."
"The device can include an audio clip of an artist name, song title, and album name, for example generated using a text to speech engine, or pre-recorded by an actor," the application reads. "The electronic device, however, may only locally store audio clips for media items that the device knows will be played back, for example locally stored media items."
"The application describes media being identified by locally stored metadata, detailing the artist, song title or album title of a particular track, or other information for different types of media. By reviewing this metadata, a connected device like an iPHONE could then begin streaming the appropriate content from the cloud, if the file is not locally stored on the device. APPLE's filing notes that streamed media could be made available through the iTUNES Music Store, or via an alternate source."