iTunes Match has floated into existence today – in the States at least, where it seems that they are permanently at least three weeks in the future.
The system is quite a simple one: basically, you can upload your music to Apple’s servers and stream it from there, saving precious storage space on your device as well as eliminating the need to sync – if you have an iPod, an iPhone and a mac, for example, it will allow you to have the same music library available to you anywhere you have an internet connection.
One thing that this system does do however is scan your iTunes collection for stuff that doesn’t need to be uploaded (ie music that already exists in the cloud), meaning that a large amount of music does not need to be uploaded – making this system quicker for users and putting less strain on Apple’s servers.
What some people were rather dismayed to discover however is this: if iTunes finds a match (not just a clever name, see) in the cloud to what’s on your iThing, it will delete the files from the hard drive and consider the cloud version non-canonical.
Digital rights campaigners will doubtless see this as a further intrusion into users’ liberties – now not only do you pay money and not receive a physical property, what you are essentially buying is a license to listen to songs at Apple’s say-so: what happens if their servers are down, or you want to use your iPod on the bus where there’s no WiFi?
The other potential problem with this is one that Spotify has: Albums could vanish as a result of disputes with labels/publishers, essentially taking away a product that someone has paid for – we’ve not seen the EULA but I’d imagine Apple won’t be forthcoming in offering refunds should this happen.