Apple Cranks Up Music Storage to 100K

Music lovers are receiving an early holiday gift from Apple: It has increased from 25,000 to 100,000 the maximum number of music tracks that can be uploaded to the personal libraries of Apple Music and iTunes Match users, MacRumors reported Sunday.

When Apple launched its streaming music service,Apple Music, in June, Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet software and services, revealed on Twitter that the company was working on raising the library ceiling for iOS 9. It had yet to do so when the new version of the mobile operating system debuted in September.

Cue confirmed that Apple had begun rolling out the larger library feature for all users, according to MacRumors.

The company hasn’t changed its Apple Music support page yet to reflect the new upper limit.

Both Apple Music and iTunes Match allow users to upload tracks they own into Apple iCloud where they can accessed from any Apple device. With Apple Music, for US$9.99 a month, users also can stream music they don’t own from Apple’s music library.

A Lot of Music

For most people, 100,000 tracks is a staggering number, but the increase probably isn’t for most people.

“For people who are really into music, 25,000 can be a severe limitation,” said Bob O’Donnell, founder and chief analyst forTechnalysis Research.

“Apple doesn’t want those people to be cut off. That would be a big mistake,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“People who are intense music fans tend to have big libraries and they tend to be influencers,” O’Donnell noted. “Apple doesn’t want to cut off people from using its services who are really strong influencers.”The 100,000-song ceiling will have appeal to only a very small number of users, said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group.

“That’s a lot of music to manage, and you’re never going to listen to all of it,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“In a library of 25,000, there are a lot songs you’re not going to want to listen to again,” Enderle said. “In 100,000, there’s a whole lot more music you really don’t want to listen to again, but you’re still going to have to manage.”

Late to the Party

While hard-core music lovers still groom and nurture their large libraries of tunes, streaming has been where the music scene has been moving for years. That’s been a challenge for Apple.

“For many years, Apple was the clear leader in downloaded tracks,” said Ross Rubin, senior director for industry analysis atApp Annie.

“Now that a lot of the focus has shifted to streaming, Apple is more of a newcomer,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

“Apple hasn’t been doing well in streaming,” added Technalysis’ O’Donnell. “They’ve been challenged. They don’t have the dominant position in streaming that they have in virtually every other market that they’re in.”

Although it arrived late to the streaming party, Apple still may have time on its side.

“They were late to the game, so many of their users already had subscription services they liked and used. Once you subscribe to a service and you’re happy with it, it’s hard to get you to switch because you have move your playlists and music to the new system,” Enderle noted.

“Apple can overcome that as they add new Apple users because Apple users tend to stay with Apple services,” he said.

Radio Without Commercials

With streaming becoming important to mobile users and so much of Apple’s bottom line tied up with the fortunes of the iPhone, getting streaming right will be important to the company.

“Streaming has become more prevalent on mobile as smartphones have become de facto portable music players,” App Annie’s Rubin said.

“It’s definitely become a much more prevalent way for consumers to access music on connected portable devices,” he added. “That was surely part of the reason that Apple launched a streaming-based service.”

The buying, downloading and uploading of music world where Apple is king is waning in importance.

“It’s a sign of the way the world was, not the way the world is,” Enderle said.

“Streaming is like radio without commercials, which, for a lot of folks, is all they really want. They don’t want to manage a whole bunch of tracks,” he added.

“For the last decade,” Enderle continued, “the trend has been toward streaming and away from buy to own.”

John Mello is a freelance technology writer and contributor to Chief Security Officer magazine. You can connect with him on Google+.

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