Sony's Cloud-Based Music Service Shows What iTunes 10 Could Have Been

During the Apple music keynote hubbub, rival Sony (SNE) quietly announced Qriocity, a cloud-based subscription music service that will cross all Sony platforms. Atrocious name aside, Qriocity shows how safe Apple played it with music -- and what iTunes 10 could have been.

From the top, Sony is venturing into what critics have wanted from Apple for years -- a truly new music platform. Coming this December, Qriocity will be playable on nearly all Sony devices, including:

  • Home and portable PlayStations
  • Bravia TVs
  • Blu-Ray players
  • VAIO PCs
It is a sort of cross-platform/walled garden set-up that sounds a lot like Apple.

However, Apple has always stopped short of delivering cloud-based delivery. This week's Apple TV announcement hyped up streaming content from another Apple device. Why are consumers limited to streaming from their own hard drive? In the era of Dropbox, and other cloud-based services, having to own another Apple device to own media content on Apple TV is as antiquated as the floppy disk.

The Sony announcement also reminds critics of Apple's unfulfilled potential with Lala. Purchased by Apple earlier this year, the cloud-based music service was shut down last Spring with little warning. As my BNET colleague Ben Popper noted at the time:

...[T]he way Apple executed the changeover left a lot to be desired. Lala users who paid for music in the cloud will see their entire collections evaporate when the site shuts down on May 31. Lala says that these songs can be redeemed as credits over at the iTunes store, but that still means users will have to rebuild their entire collections, at ten times the price, and without the option of existing in the cloud.

The Lala acquisition setup Apple well for a cloud-based relaunch of iTunes. Instead, Lala customers were forced to repurchase their media content and Ping is supposed to make iTunes 10 a must-have update.

Both Microsoft (MSFT), with its Zune Pass, and Sony, with Qriocity, have shown that cloud-based music can be successfully negotiated between major players and the record industry -- and Apple doesn't even need to do the subscription option aspect to make iTunes a better service. Qriocity's arrival this December is a reminder of how behind Apple is with the cloud-hungry public.

Photo courtesy of akakumo // CC 2.0