Could Apple Bring Streaming Content to iTunes?

iTunes 7.4

Everyone talks about the trend towards cloud computing, and for a while, it seemed as though computers would eventually become nothing more than net-connected screens and keyboards, since the need for local storage was slowly but surely being eroded. If you use a media download service like iTunes, though, you are probably very aware of just how dependent on storage space we all still are, and we have 1 TB Apple Time Machines to prove it.

If, judging by the sales figures, you’ve turned to Apple for the core components of your home theater (via Apple TV, iTunes music, etc.), the problem you inevitably come up against is where to put all that data you download. Sure, you can take the expensive route of buying to maximum capacity what Apple offers in each device, but you’ll still inevitably have to delete something to make room for something else.

One solution, and one which Apple has in the works, according to AppleInsider, is iTunes Replay, a streaming content delivery system that would alleviate the storage burdens of iTunes customers. Apple would house TV episodes and movies on their own servers, set up for this purpose, and users could then access it as needed without having to download and store the file.

While it isn’t clear which specific iTunes-enabled devices would benefit from the new streaming service, a likely candidate is Apple TV, because of the size of video media, and the fact that many of its competitors already offer streaming media. If I was the optimistic type, I would hope that the service would also be accessible via iPhone and iPod, but that probably won’t occur as part of the initial release.

This move has obvious drawbacks for the computer manufacturer, since it might dissuade customers from opting for the more expensive, higher capacity devices. It might, however, be intended to buttress media sales in uncertain economic times, if they are predicting that new hardware spend will dwindle regardless. AppleInsider also suggests Apple may charge for the service, above and beyond the price of individual episodes and films, which would somewhat offset their losses in hardware sales.

The streaming service is said to be coming as an iteration of iTunes 8, so it won’t bring a major update to the existing software. No word on when the introduction is specifically planned, though. My guess is that it might arrive alongside an Apple TV hardware update, and possibly the one I wrote about yesterday.

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