Should Anybody Care About Apple’s Announcements Today Besides Developers? And Has Digital Music Replaced Porn As A Driver For New Technology?

Apple today did its dog and pony show at its annual developers conference, making official introductions for iOS 5, Mac OS X Lion & iCloud.

And, while dozens of tech sites (and music sites) are blathering about how awesome and important the updates are, they were largely incremental improvements and expected announcements:

  • Mac OS X Lion is coming in July, will have the features that Apple announced last October, and will cost $29. This is a solid incremental upgrade to an already-great OS.
  • iOS 5 – Apple basically looked at the strengths of other smartphone OS’s and adopted and improved their best features. Another solid incremental upgrade to an already great OS.
  • iCloud is an Internet-based syncing infrastructure that lets you wireless sync stuff between your devices.

iCloud is getting the most attention, because its’ the one thing Apple introduced that hasn’t already been analyzed to death. And most analysts don’t seem to really ‘get’ iCloud yet, hyping its non-existant streaming capabilities and comparing it to Google and Amazon’s cloud-based music services.

So, should anybody care about today’s announcements besides developers? And what’s the porn angle?

The Post-PC Future

Apple’s announcements today aren’t as glamorous as a new iPhone, Mac or media player. But in the long run, their announcements for developers are probably more important than their consumer announcements.

Apple today articulated its vision for the ‘post-pc’ future. And it’s a vision that will, in the long run, have some big changes for the way Mac and iOS based musicians work.

Let’s take a look at OS X Lion, iOS 5 and iCloud and see how they fit into this post-pc future:

  • OS X Lion – OS X is becoming more like iOS, with multi-touch gesture support, full-screen apps, an App Store, Auto-Save and impromptu wireless file-sharing. Apple is de-emphasizing many of the things that non-technical people struggle with – things like windows, the file system and moving documents from point a to point b. Apple is also moving away from the Mac being your ‘digital hub’ and moving towards the idea of your digital hub being stored on the Internet.
  • iOS 5 – iOS devices are getting un-tethered from computers, so you won’t need to connect your iPhone or your iPad to a computer anymore to get started with it or to sync it. They’ll now be independent ‘post-pc’ devices.
  • iCloud – it’s probably going to take a few years for people to really understand the impact of iCloud, but it’s going to be really important. Basically, Apple is introducing a free cloud infrastructure for developers to build on. There have been some popular cloud-based services in the past, but they’ve largely been limited to services from big companies, like Google Mail. Now, any developer will be able to incorporate cloud features into their applications.

What’s This Mean For Musicians?

Apple’s vision for a ‘post-pc’ future makes mobile devices a powerful, independent computing platform.

We’ve already seen the explosion of music software for iOS. This is going to continue and music apps are going to rapidly catch up with their desktop counterparts.

Here are some examples of how we expect this to develop:

  • Software synths – there are already hundreds of software synths and virtual instruments for iOS. Many have desktop counterparts. Expect future software synths to wirelessly sync with their desktop counterparts, so if you develop a patch on the desktop version of a synth, you’ll find it on your iPhone or iPad, too. Create some beats at lunch and they’ll be on your desktop when you get home.
  • DAWs – iOS devices already have ‘baby DAWs’, like GarageBand, MultiTrack, StudioTrack and Portastudio. Expect them to integrate cloud features, so you can create tracks on your iPad and they will wirelessly sync, via iCloud, and be available on your desktop computer. Saving to the cloud will also provide a backup for your mobile work, in case your device gets lost, broken or stolen.
  • DJs – don’t worry about bringing your laptop to gigs; you’ll be able to log in wherever you go and access your Traktor or Live sets via iCloud.
  • Collaboration – save your work to iCloud and it’s available anywhere; this should make it easier to work with collaborators because you’ll be able to go anywhere and access your files or give them access to work with your files.

Unfortunately, it’s going to take a while for the potential inherent in today’s Apple announcements to play out. Today’s mobile devices aren’t as powerful as desktops, wireless bandwidth is a barrier to moving around big data files and the cost of storage will limit what you want to store in a cloud-based service. And it will take a few years for the platform to mature and offer developers the features that they will need for more esoteric applications.

And this where digital music comes in.

iTunes in the Cloud

In the recent past, pornography has been the content driving the adoption of many new technologies. Many have attributed the adoption of video players, online payment systems, Internet streaming media, live chat and the graphical Web to interest in adult content.

In recent years, though, digital music and video games have become more important drivers of technology adoption. Digital music, especially file-sharing, has helped drive broadband adoption, the multi-billion dollar digital media player industry, the evolution of the home stereo and the development of smart phones.

Now, it looks like Apple is using digital music to drive adoption of its concept of the ‘post-pc’ future.

‘Cloud computing’ and developer application interfaces are not technologies that most consumers care about. To push these technologies forward, Apple needs to get users to try out iCloud, so that there will be users for developers to cater to.

Apple has already used people’s interest in digital music to help it build several multi-billion dollar businesses. It’s going to try and do the same thing with iCloud.

iTunes in the Cloud is something that people can understand. Managing music across multiple devices is a pain – and lots of people have to do this.

Backing your music up to current Internet ‘storage lockers’ is an unholy nightmare, too.

I’ve tried doing this with a large music library to both Amazon and Google’s cloud music services and it’s basically impossible with both. With Amazon’s service, uploading a small portion of my music library took most of a week, on a cable broadband connection.

Apple’s implementation looks like it’s going to be a lot smarter, only uploading songs that it can’t identify and match to one of the 18 million songs Apple already has in its iTunes database.

And, if Apple can get people to adopt cloud computing with music, you can expect developers to come up with thousands of applications that take advantage of the platform.

What’s With This ‘Post-PC’ Thing, Anyway?

Apple knows it’s not going to win the Mac vs PC argument, decades after it was decided.

Apple’s strategy is to grow into markets where PC’s are largely irrelevant – and it’s using people’s interest in digital music as a way of getting its foot in the door.

And, based on the company’s track record over the last decade and today’s announcements, it looks like Apple has a good chance at making cloud computing go mainstream.

What do you think about today’s Apple announcements and their implications for musicians and digital music?

Update: Peter Kirn has some interesting alternate views on today’s announcements at his Create Digital Music site.

Dell Image: Random McRandomhead

24 thoughts on “Should Anybody Care About Apple’s Announcements Today Besides Developers? And Has Digital Music Replaced Porn As A Driver For New Technology?

  1. Really great news, specially for musicians. An example of the use of iCloud is the solution to the nightmare that represent to maintain in sync (files speaking) between lets say the MacBook Pro on the road and the iMac at the studio. Another great news is the sight of a fullscreen Logic (as always it should be). I think this is just the beginning of a entire new era with more deep assimilation of technology of today and with more clear vision about the technology upcoming.

  2. Still no file mangement for ios. IDC! ACP is whack to a true sample tech like myself. Cloud is for new jacks just building their libraries.
    I'm old school and believe in physical copies of my media along with HD's with tons of space to rip too.
    Now that i see that the future is bleek after all this wait, I'll be checking out the competition and reducing my ios gear down to 1 iPad.
    Playtime is over.

  3. I hate it when commercial developers announce "new features" because it usually just means more lock in, less freedom, more cost, less openness. Unless it's an open source project these kind of announcements usually spell impending doom. Their main goal is to lock you in and take your money, that's it. I use a Mac and Logic for now but ever since the ipad I think it's the beginning of the end for me. Gotta start studying Ableton or Pro-Tools I guess. These days I spend more time on string instruments anyways. I mean you meet guys who have the same bass for 30 years! Meanwhile every electronic guy is on a mad dash for this or that gimmicky thing that somebody is selling.

  4. 1 – The changes in features, approach and cost of the desktop OS represent a real fundamental shift in desktop computing. The effects of this will ripple through the industry in extremely significant ways. For those who still need a desktop, OS X is becoming so fundamentally different than it used to be, and windows still is, that the "mac vs pc" debate really won't be something anyone could engage in. As windows 8 is trying desperately to fit into a tablet, Lion is evolving into something more modern and functional for "workstation" style users, while still playing well with other devices and services.

    2 – 99% of all desktop/laptop users really have no reason for that hardware anymore. Mobile and specialized devices will suit the needs better and cheaper. A central cloud based solution that offers more than "file storage" is going to be the final nudge customers need when their next purchasing cycle comes around.

    3 – The ecosystem Apple has created offers a ton of flexibility, choice and value for any consumer. The difference between their platform and everyone else will be as significant as a computer with a network connection vs a computer without one.

  5. "Managing music across multiple devices is a pain"

    is it really? It maybe is a pain with iTunes and iPods, because of the completely locked down system. I never had a problem with copying my mp3 around.

    The thing is, all needs have been largely covered 10 years ago so hardware and software companies have to find new ways of making the useless seem something you can't live without.

    With every iRevolution I get more and more bored by technology.

  6. Cloud computing brings us a step closer to the day when everyone will either be naked or spying on someone who is naked. The concept of privacy is already a solid way to get a laugh at a hacker's party. Good luck defending yourself against malware that's posted to The Cloud. Its a digital wet dream featuring "The Lawnmower Man" having the last laugh.

  7. "The thing is, all needs have been largely covered 10 years ago so hardware and software companies have to find new ways of making the useless seem something you can't live without. "

    Glad to hear that Windows ME is still doing it for you!

  8. "DJs – don’t worry about bringing your laptop to gigs; you’ll be able to log in wherever you go and access your Traktor or Live sets via iCloud."

    How does one run Traktor or Live without a laptop?

    …but oh god if only we could run those on iPad…. 😀

  9. Hey, now that both Apple and Microsoft are committed to producing toys for college kids (iPad, Xbox, etc.) maybe Blackberry can come in and produce high end UNIX workstations for audio and video production? Like a nightmare the high technology of our civilization is devolving into a versions of Mario Paint and Guitar Hero…Blackberry? IBM? Somebody save me!

  10. Well if computing is coming full circle and going back to dummy terminals attached to a mainframe I'd rather just get it from the guys who have been the industry leaders of mainframes for the last 50 years: IBM.

  11. Don't worry, the high-end of technology isn't really devolving. The bell is just moving left on the curve. Tech marketing departments just found out they could sell a lot more of everything by making it a disposable fashion accessory. They found out they could not only sell the products, but sell a radically altered vision of what constitutes "value", and impose that vision on their customers to colonize them into a vast moldy substrate of mediocrity. The unexpectedly good news is that this phenomenon is not unique to the technology industry, and did not originate from it; Yes, someone above us trudged into the discussion beating his chest with his doubtlessly chocolate ice cream-stained hands to loudly proclaim that 99% of the world doesn't need advanced capabilities, processing power, upgradeability or technical choice. Yes, he doesn't have a realistic view of the worldwide population with access to broadband internet. Yes, he seems naive and is probably unaware of the struggles that erupt invisibly around him in his daily life, and indeed what real struggle is. But you really can't blame him. He's being sold the same lie peddled on every street corner.

    He doesn't understand an axiomatic truth about every society that's ever existed and ever will: We aren't all connected, we don't all share the same needs, we don't have the same tastes. And that's our greatest strength. Those who are leading the real devolution here are connectors selling connection. Technology is the medium, not the message. As Samuel Johnson once said: "Let us not be befuddled by the clamor of the times."

    Someday, the winds of culture might once again blow in a comprehensible direction. Perhaps sooner than we realize; history follows a non-Euclidean path. We can't consciously do anything to steer it; we're the fish screaming as the Titanic hurtles past. But hey, man, at least we're not going down with the ship.

    Toodles 🙂

  12. How does syncing between devices lock you in, lol?

    Do you think that manually copying files back and forth makes you empowered, or something?

    What Apple actually announced was that you didn't have to connect your iPhone or iPad or your computer anymore – you don't even need to have one – but if you do, you can choose to sync stuff between your devices.

  13. No- I probably am missing your point.

    Not trying to be snarky about it, but I can't see why you would suggest that all of our computing needs or technology needs for music were covered 10 years ago.

    Even people who are into doing retro music benefit from cheaper, faster, lighter gear.

    Computer and hardware companies have to come up with something that you will think is worth spending your money on, or they'll go out of business.

  14. "Computer and hardware companies have to come up with something that you will think is worth spending your money on, or they'll go out of business."
    thant's exactly the point. Companies have to come up with something… but what if what we thing out money is worth being spent on is just bullshit?
    Guess I am just bored by technology, guess I am more interested in people making music than in people finding new ways to sell music.

  15. Cloud computing in general is a fantastic yet terrifying concept, considering that computing and privacy laws really haven't addressed the cloud networks. On one hand this can benefit many, including musicians. On the other, since your essentially utilizing a terminal, is the data you create while on the cloud really yours? Many corporate and company policies are "if this is created/modified/stored, etc using our system (computers or network) then we can claim the rights to it." now, I couldn't see this happening… At least not likely. My thought is we should also give consideration to where and in what method we choose to create. All of this new technology has given all musicians the freedom to translate the sounds in their heads, everyone can have easier access to what once was a far-fetched dream. We are pilgrims into a new realm, but we lack the protections that the known realms have, assurance of freedom.
    … Can't wait for fruity loops to hit the iPad!

  16. not true, domi/lol

    WiFI sync will copy over any ripped or bootlegged MP3s you want, just like iTunes does now.

    If you want, you can pay $25/year and it will sync any ripped or bootlegged songs using iCloud.

    If you want to rip on Apple's announcements, you should try to understand what you're ripping on.

  17. First, I love Apple products. They are awesome most of the time. But I'm not a blind fan-boy when it comes to the Apple's closed system. Generally. it's great (no hardware conflicts, everything works with everything, etc…) but Apple is creating the foundations of a monopoly on digital content.

    Your "revelation" about the $25 subscription service (which I already knew about) to sync your previously bought music is no logical argument against what I said.

    Apple is already the largest retailer of music in the US. Now they are pressuring us to pay a yearly subscription to use our 3rd party purchases on our devices. The reasoning behind this has nothing to do with bandwidth issues. It is a brilliant business tactic I'll admit, but it is also very shady.

    BTW, I didn't rip on Apple's announcement. LION looks great. ios5 does too. I've been waiting for many of these features, and I'm happy Apple listened to their customers…. but the cloud thing is a valid concern of many people following Apple's success.

    o and I'm a law student @ Brooklyn College with 3 BAs in History (Queens), Audio Engineering (NYU), and PolySci (Queens)… I might just know more about the legality issues than you…

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