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Summary:

Though some iCloud functionality is already available to iTunes users, the paid iTunes Match service doesn’t launch until fall. But a new report suggests there will be ample demand when it does arrive, and convenience, not a desire to skirt the law, is driving interest.

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Though some iCloud functionality is already available to iTunes users (purchase history and Automatic Downloads, specifically), the paid iTunes Match service doesn’t launch until fall. But The NPD Group thinks there will be ample demand for such a service when it does arrive, according to details from an upcoming report it shared with us. But why are users so eager to sign up?

Forty-six percent of iTunes users surveyed by The NPD Group for its upcoming “iTunes User Report” expressed interest in signing up for a paid cloud music service, were Apple to offer one. Of course, since Monday, we’ve learned Apple does intend to offer such a service, in the form of iTunes Match. iTunes Match will scan a user’s local iTunes library, and provide access to high quality AAC files of songs found for direct download to any device associated with their iTunes account. Scanned music doesn’t necessarily have to come from the iTunes Store, either, which is a cause for concern for some, and excitement for others.

It’s easy to say that users are interested in iTunes Match because it seems like it could amount to a possible amnesty regarding pirated music, but the details of Apple’s scan-and-match service weren’t known when NPD posed its question. Instead, it seems more likely the motivation stems mainly from the convenience a subscription cloud music service provides, owing to the success of mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad.

NPD entertainment industry analyst thinks the survey is a good indication that Apple chose the right time to launch a fee-based service that provides cloud music access to iTunes users:

It’s notable that even before Apple’s announcement this week, nearly half of iTunes users had some interest in a paid cloud-based music service. As device penetration continues to grow, and as consumers demand easier access to their music from multiple devices, we can expect interest in these services from Apple and others to continue to rise.

That nearly half of iTunes users said they were willing to pay for cloud music access is very promising for Apple, considering how much of a shift it represents from the current way of doing things. It’s even better news for the company that younger iTunes customers appear even more amenable to the idea: 57 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 responded positively to the idea, indicating that there’s a good chance cloud music adoption will grow with time.

The only hurdle might be that NPD’s analysis found that the ideal average price for paid iTunes cloud music service is $17 per year, which is a fair bit shy of the nearly $25 Apple is asking. Also, NPD’s question to iTunes users did include the word “streaming” in its definition of a cloud service. iCloud and iTunes Match don’t provide streaming per se, but they do provide access to your entire library from any device where you have internet access, another condition set by NPD, and, as Cult of Mac points out, streaming just isn’t that useful to most Americans because of bandwidth data caps.

If Apple can sign up anywhere near half of the 160 million iTunes users it had at last official count, iTunes Match will be a considerable success. Are you planning on contributing to that success?

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  1. if iTunes would offer an extra service for extra fee, say $15 a month; so I could stream/play all the music they have I would be 100% happy. $25/year for iCloud Music Match or whatever name is and $15/month for stream anything and I would be a music loving fool!

  2. Question: Why would you need this service for a whole year???

    Sounds like one day would do the match upgrades. What is the catch? Would Apple repo your matches off ITunes after one year?

    No wonder they want to get rid of the DVD burner on all machines. They want to totally control your music$ and end rogue ripping! No thank you Apple. I see where you are going with this, even if others don’t.

    How much for just one day’s matching service???

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