Apple Launches iTunes Match

Apple unveiled its anticipated iTunes Match service yesterday (Nov. 14), a move that aims to make the company the undisputed leader in the cloud music battle.

For an annual fee of $24.99, iTunes Match will scan a user’s library and reserve a 256 kbps DRM-free AAC music file through its new iCloud service for any corresponding titles. These files will be playable/downloadable to any iTunes and web-enabled device, such as the iPad, Touch, iPhone, Apple TV and more. This applies not only to songs originally purchased through iTunes but to songs ripped from CDs or acquired by other means. Any songs not matched through iTunes can also be manually uploaded to iCloud.

The reveal of iTunes Match takes place just as Google is preparing to launch its Google Music service, which may be debuting without the approval of all the majors. Amazon has also been heavily pushing its new Kindle Fire for the holiday season, a tablet device that can play and/or purchase media from its large selection of products.

In short, the iTunes Match service is attempting to combine the future of access-based cloud music consumption with consumers’ history of file-sharing and hoarding. As more and more media-friendly devices hit the market, neatly managing libraries and files between them will be a growing concern.

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