I've been downloading music since I first figured out that I could minimize my AOL window in Windows 3.1 and open up a Netscape browser. My thirteen-year-old self was ravenous for the media that I could find searching on early FTP directories that shall remain nameless. MP3 blew my mind at the time. I was amazed that data could be compressed like that (a 600+MB music CD could be compressed down to as low as 50MB). That kind of stuff was a lot of fun for me, but the music itself wasn't the goal. It was as much about the hunt, the technical challenge and the WOW! factor. It took about a half-hour to download a 128kbps bit-rate MP3 of a 3-5 minute song. Now, Apple is signing a deal with Warner Music to offer streaming, cloud-based music services. They haven't said anything publicly, but both they and Google are looking to grab as much of this market as possible after Amazon released their Cloud Player last month.
There are a multitude of streaming services that provide music in almost any format you can imagine. The most popular is a site that wasn't even really designed with music in mind, YouTube. Google made the right choice to snap them up when they had the chance. There's also Pandora, Soundcloud, and Grooveshark, which are just the ones that I regularly use.
After Amazon released it's cloud service last month, the other giants are scrambling to keep up. Apple is looking to introduce cloud functionality to their iTunes service. This is exciting as it removes one of the reasons why many rarely purchase albums these days. I mean, apart from the fact that you can listen to just about anything you want using the multitude of online services that are available for free.
This cloud functionality is going to remove one of iTunes most complained about issues. But that's mainly because many people don't consistently back up their data. These changes signify a major shift in the way we need to start thinking about our devices. Our devices, be they smartphones, tablets, or even a traditional keyboard-mouse computer sitting on your desk, are the endpoint to the greater network instead of objects in themselves. Tune in, Turn on, Jack in.