Tech wrap: Apple beats Google to the music cloud

April 21, 2011

Storm clouds gather over Hanoi's skyline September 21, 2009. REUTERS/KhamApple has completed work on an online music storage service and is set to launch it ahead of Google, whose own music efforts have stalled, according to several people familiar with both companies’ plans. The sources revealed that Apple’s plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection and that Apple has yet to sign any new licenses for the service and major music labels are hoping to secure deals before the service is launched. Amazon.com launched a music locker service earlier in April without new licensing agreements leading to threats of legal action from some music companies.

Verizon gained wireless subscribers with Apple’s iPhone, but the device’s affect on its financials failed to impress investors. Verizon Wireless posted 906,000 net new subscribers, roughly in line with expectations. That was much better than AT&T, which added only 62,000 net subscribers in the quarter as it lost iPhone exclusivity. However, a key sticking point for investors when comparing the two operators was the fact that AT&T won more new iPhone customers in the quarter than Verizon. Verizon announced that it would sell a new version of the iPhone later this year that, unlike its current iPhone, would work globally.

The risky attempt by The New York Times to charge fees to website readers looks to be paying off, although it still faces stiff challenges in turning around a fall-off in print advertising revenue at its core business. The company gained more than 100,000 new subscribers since it introduced its digital subscription service on March 28, representing at least an estimated $26 million in annual revenue and trouncing early expectations for the service.

Disruption to Amazon servers that host Internet services took down a raft of social networking websites including social network foursquare and Q+A aggregator Quora. Amazon’s “Elastic Compute Cloud,” part of the online retail company’s cloud-computing service that hosts websites for startups, experienced latency problems and other errors, according to Amazon’s status page. The latest update on Amazon’s status page said the company was “now seeing significantly reduced failures and latency and … continuing to recover. We have also brought additional capacity online in the affected availability zone.”

Cloud computing solutions have advanced beyond storage to the point where they now provide businesses with ways to improve operations, writes Microsoft’s Cindy Bates. Among her tips for businesses to get more from the cloud: Deploy cloud-based versions communication/productivity tools such e-mail, phone, chat, contacts, calendars, and document creation software to gain access to enterprise-level capabilities; if your business provides Web services to customers, moving applications to the cloud will allow you to scale them up or down depending on your needs and gives your developers more choice in where and how they manage, deploy and store data; and the cloud can give your business the ability to maintain a remote workforce. Workers can access e-mail, documents, calendars and more, as well as collaborate with colleagues through document-sharing programs and video conferencing technology, essentially experiencing “in-office” scenarios wherever they have access to an Internet connection, Bates argues.

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