Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Apple’s iTunes Match Pitch: Pay Up, Stick Around

Let’s assume that Apple’s iTunes Match works as advertised.

I can’t report that it does. I spent several hours futzing with the service last night, and found it balky. But I’m guessing that, just like its iCloud launch last month, Apple will work out many of the kinks over the next couple days.

In the meantime, sometimes iTunes Match did what it was supposed to do: It moved my songs — whether I bought them from Apple, acquired them legally somewhere else or flat-out stole them — from my computers to Apple’s servers. Then it let me move the files back down again to my iPhone and other machines.

That’s useful for me, and worth the $25 annual charge. But it’s great for Apple.

Because now my computer, my phone and several other devices are even more closely bound by iTunes than they were before. And it’s happening just as rival cloud services are trying to bust up Apple’s hold on my media.

Tomorrow, for instance, Google is set to finally unveil its Google Music service, which is supposed to combine a cloud/locker offering with the ability to share songs with friends who also use the service. Yesterday, Amazon started shipping its Kindle Fire tablet, which is both a media consumption device and a media obtainment device — designed to get me to buy more media from Amazon.

Meanwhile, Spotify has been pushing me — with an insistent assist from Facebook — to use its music service for free, with the hope that I’ll become so deeply enmeshed that I end up paying $10 a month for a premium account.

None of these rival services preclude me from using Apple and iTunes. In fact all of them will work, at least initially, with iTunes songs (video will be another story). And it’s possible for me to maintain parallel cloud systems if I really want to. I could use Spotify as a discovery tool, for instance, and iTunes as my gotta-have-it archive. But I’ve got limited time and attention, so the reality is that I’m going to end up picking one cloud and sticking with it.

I’ve been working with iTunes since 2001, so Tim Cook already has a very long lead — long enough that he can get away with charging me $25 a year to make it even harder for me to leave. The new guys are going to have work very hard to pull me away.

[Image via: instruct9r/Shutterstock]


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus