A rumor concerning a revamped MobileMe, expected to be launched in April, is suggesting that the new system will include a ‘music locker’ for users and that the price tag for the new service will be somewhere around $20 per year. The report comes from music blogging site The Music Void (via 9to5Mac) and suggests that Apple has already secured deals with Warner Music and is using it as a bargaining point for other labels to join in the agreement.
The new system could potentially offer two key features which, when combined, would offer users complete access to their music on-the-go. The first, as mentioned above, would be the digital music locker, where users would be able to store all of their music as a backup versus the current iTunes protocol of only allowing downloads once. This would bring the music that is available on iTunes more into line with app purchase policies i.e. download as many times as you want.
The cloud based music locker could also act as a central source to allow on-demand downloading of tracks wherever the user was, simply by accessing MobileMe (just as an aside, it would be interesting if a new 10th anniversary iPod Classic had wireless access to allow integration with MobileMe and on demand downloads). It is not clear, however, if Apple would allow storage of non-iTunes purchases in the locker or if the company would simply use a consumers purchase history to determine eligibility for repeated downloads and on-demand access.
Unfortunately, there is no way of assessing the veracity of the rumor other than waiting until the new MobileMe is announced, which is expected sometime in April. Certainly, it has long been thought that Apple is working on some type of cloud based music service and this ties in well with a new MobileMe service. The $20 price is a new detail that had not been previously mentioned as rumors of a free service have been fairly prevalent most recently.
Paying $20 for the privelege of storing music online seems fairly reasonable but it would rather cool if this was the fee per year for the entire MobileMe service. Apple’s current $99 price tag is now obsolete given the many free cloud-services offered by other companies such as Google and DropBox. But $20 is around the price point that many people could get on board with.