Well this is certainly interesting. Gigaom is reporting that Apple recently purchased the iCloud.com domain from Xcerion for a cool $4.5 million. Indeed, iCloud.com now re-directs to CloudMe.com.
Apple’s track record with cloud based initiatives have been less than stellar to say the least. That said, Apple is reportedly planning a big MobileMe revamp that may be tightly linked with the release of iOS 5 this Fall. Indeed, if the $4.5 million figure is anywhere close to accurate, it’s a good bet that the normally frugal Apple wouldn’t have spent that much money unless it had serious plans for the domain.
So what might Apple have in store?
Well, there have recently been a number of rumors that Apple has plans to roll out a digital locker service where users would be able to store their purchased content from iTunes in the cloud and presumably stream it back down to their iOS devices. This service would also let users store individual files and personal photos as well.
Late last week, Peter Kafka of the WSJ reported that Apple had already inked licensing deals with 2 of the top 4 record labels to support the aforementioned service. Note that the licensing rights to stream music are different from the ones required to sell music.
And sources tell me that Apple has already procured deals from at least two of the big four labels (Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony and EMI) within the last two months. One source tells me Apple content boss Eddy Cue will be in New York tomorrow to try to finalize remaining deals.
“They’ve been very aggressive and thoughtful about it,” says an industry executive. “It feels like they want to go pretty soon.”
Other MobileMe and cloud-based rumors have suggested that Apple might make MobileMe a free service. Though free-anything isn’t really Apple’s style, CNET reported earlier this week that Apple’s digital locker service may, in fact, be free at first only to require a fee later on down the line. One rumored figure being tossed about is a $20/year charge for the service.
So as Apple appears to be making gains in this realm of the music sphere, Google’s efforts, last we’ve heard, have been temporarily derailed after negotiations with music labels fell apart.