Here’s one feature you won’t find in Apple’s new iCloud service: video syncing. The cloud-based media storage service introduced at Apple’s WWDC conference in San Francisco on Monday offers the ability to sync your personal music library with the cloud without uploading any of the actual files, making it possible to access thousands of songs on any of your devices in a matter of minutes. Apple calls this feature Music Match, and charges users $24.99 per year to instantly access their personal music library online.
However, it won’t be able to do the same thing with movies. iCloud can sync videos across devices, but it does so by uploading each and every file to the cloud and then downloading it to other devices. Depending on the file size, this can be a cumbersome and time-consuming process. There were rumors before the event that Apple was in talks with Hollywood to secure similar rights for movie streams, but details about these negotiations were scarce.
A cloud solution for Hollywood fare could have been a great extension to Apple’s existing iTunes video offering, which largely centers around rentals and sales of movies and TV show downloads. Apple does offer streaming of select TV show episodes for $0.99 on Apple TV, but it hasn’t made this price point and functionality available to users of the iTunes desktop client, or to other iOS devices like the iPad or iPhone.
That’s a problem, especially in the mobile space where storage is oftentimes limited. Google announced at its developer conference in May that it is going to stream to Android devices through its new Android Movie service, and Amazon has been offering streaming to a variety of platforms. However, both companies don’t extend these services to videos that customers already have on their hard drives either. Google’s recently launched cloud music service doesn’t have any movie streaming functionality, and Amazon’s Cloud Drive only offers basic support for video streaming that requires users to upload each and every video file individually.
Hollywood was also notably absent from other parts of Apple’s WWDC keynote. iPhone software SVP Scott Forstall made a point of saying how many songs (15 billion), apps (14 billion) and books (130 million) have been downloaded through iTunes, and he said that Apple now has 225 million customer accounts with credit cards. However, he didn’t mention how many movies and TV show episodes these customers rented or purchased.