I’m in. By in, I mean I have the MacBook Pro (it’s got Unix!), the iPad, the iPod, the iPhone, and the MacMini Server. For documents I still use Microsoft Office like the majority of the rest of the world, but for personal documents increasingly I’m using iWork because of some of nifty features, like autosaving and iCloud.
So, now I want to buy P!nk’s Greatest Hits…So Far!!!. Usually, I purchase my music at Amazon’s MP3 store, or, if I’m really feeling nostalgic, Second Spin; but iCloud presents me with a new opportunity: the idea that if I just buy my music with iTunes I will have access to it wherever I am.
My first concern is space. You see, I’ve ripped about half of my CDs so far and I’m taking up 22GB of space on my iPod with music. As time goes on, I’ll probably reach 45GB in CD music alone. I’m in no danger of hitting my upper limit today, or next year even. My iOS devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad) all have 64 GB of space. I don’t put music on the iPad, preferring to use that device for movies and books, so the space taken up by the different forms of media shouldn’t interfere with one another.
I don’t have a lot of music with iTunes. I bought one album because it was only available there. If I continue to buy MP3s via Amazon, then I will continue to take up more and more space on my iOS devices.
I’m not sure where Moore’s Law will taper off in terms of more and more storage being available in these consumer devices. I doubt this trend will continue for consumer devices because more and more people are moving their storage to the cloud. My theory is that this will lead to fewer folks buying hard drives (whether they be magnetic or flash, it doesn’t matter), thus driving the demand down and the price back up again. With the price up, Apple (or Amazon, or Samsung, or whoever makes your portable music device) will not put as much storage into your portable device. This means that I will hit an upper limit on how many MP3s I can put onto my iOS device in the future. Apple wants me to use iCloud instead, because they see this future coming. More importantly, they are helping that future come.
So, the question is, do I continue to use Amazon’s MP3 store and manually move songs onto and off of my iOS device in the future, or do I just bite the bullet now and move to iTunes altogether? iTunes has the largest collection of music out there and I can always store a few MP3s for those artists and labels that I have to buy on Amazon.
Then there is an issue with preservation. The music on iTunes is (as most of you know) not stored in the MP3 format, but AAC (with various file extensions). As of 2009, it is supposedly DRM free. I opened one of my iTunes songs in VLC player, and it played fine, without asking me for a password like the DRM-full songs do. If this is the case, and AAC players are available in the future, then my concerns about preservation may be unfounded, as I will always be able to play the songs I’ve purchased.
iTunes is big, and with that many customers, I wouldn’t be surprised if AAC stayed around for a long time, so there should be no issue with finding an AAC player if iTunes goes away.
|Amazon MP3 Store||Apple’s iTunes|
|storage space issues||will require more and more storage on my iOS devices||handled by iCloud|
|preservation capability||MP3s are playable on many, many devices||AACs are no longer encumbered by DRM and are playable by a lot of open source software, meaning conversions are possible|