The bargain-priced but controversial music-matching feature of Apple's iCloud platform is reportedly "Coming Soon" to Australia, according to accounts of Australian iTunes users.
When Apple announced iCloud
back in June and Steve Jobs, in his final keynote appearance, revealed the company's intention to "demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device", it was clear the platform was designed to be a comprehensive game-changer (and lock-in) for the iOS generation. Here was a cloud suite that threaded your data and media invisibly in the background through your apps -- in effect, an even more effortless non-concept than the drop-dead-simple Dropbox
notion (which Jobs may have been snidely referencing when he said "Some people think the cloud is just a hard disk in the sky.")
However, one of the most potentially exciting features of the service (and especially for those with big music libraries), iTune Match, was said to be US only. iTunes in the Cloud, which is available for Australian users, enables you to re-download previous iTunes purchases to any iCloud-enabled device (iOS, Mac, PC) at no cost (and push new purchases simultaneously to all). iTunes Match on the other hand offers effectively the same ability to make your music library available (redownloadable) on all your devices -- but extends this to any music in your collection, not just iTunes purchases (and even upgrades the quality with Apple's high-quality match versions).
The feature was instantly deemed controversial once it was announced (in that it effectively legitimised those with pirated music collections by providing them with upgraded, bona fide libraries), but at just $25 per year, it's a great-value backup and storage option for any music lover (provided you're an iTunes user). Of course, the only catch was, we had no confirmation it was launching (if ever) in Australia. Until now.
According to MacRumors
, the iTunes Store itself is promoting iTunes Match as "Coming Soon" to users in Australia, Austria, Canada, Germany, Ireland, and the United Kingdom (in addition to the US). iOS users are also finding a new iTunes Match toggle in their music settings. We've checked at our end and haven't been able to replicate any "Coming Soon" notification yet -- so we'll just have to file this under "promising-looking rumours" for now. We've reached out to Apple Australia for a comment or clarification but haven't as yet heard anything. We'll let you know if we do.
In the meantime, would you use iTunes Match to back up your music collection if it launched in Australia?