On Monday, after weeks of frantic anticipation from tech fans, Apple launched its iTunes Match service. For $24.99 a year, the cloud music service allows users to listen to their music collection on multiple devices, no matter where the music files are stored. It works by scanning the music collection on your hard drive, matching the tracks against the 18 million in Apple's music store, and then giving you instant access to those tracks via iCloud on up to 10 gadgets — from iPhones to iMacs to Windows PCs. Commentators are debating whether iTunes Match is really a "game-changer for digital music." Is it?
Yes. It actually legitimizes piracy: Since the advent of the iPod and the iTunes Store, Apple has urged people to buy music, says Mark Wilson at Popular Mechanics. Now, "Apple seems to be turning its back" on that idea. If a song is on your hard drive, you can access it via Match — whether or not the music was legally obtained. "It's like Hertz saying you can hotwire any car on the lot and they won't press charges, so long as you sign that rental agreement." Apple is essentially "selling pirates their plunder." Apparently, piracy should no longer be a big concern.
"Apple's iTunes match legitimizes music piracy — because piracy no longer matters"
No. It's quite old-fashioned: True subscription services like Spotify and Rhapsody are the future, not iTunes Match, says Eliot Van Buskirk at Wired. The former services mark "a huge step forward for anyone with musical curiosity" because you can easily sample obscure genres or jam to forgotten favorites with ease, all for an inexpensive flat fee. "The iTunes system is clearly inferior." It's based on actually owning specific songs. The newer — and better — approach is to subscribe to all music.
"Eliot Van Buskirk: iTunes Match is the past disguised as the future"
Match might be great one day — but not yet: "iCloud will be one of the most important products for Steve Jobs' legacy," says Sean Ludwig at VentureBeat. "It realizes his dream of a connected Apple ecosystem," and iTunes Match will play a key role. But sadly, Match isn't there yet. "It doesn't 'just work.'" Match takes hours to set up and has numerous bugs. Some songs won't play, while others are matched incorrectly. The future as Jobs envisioned it hasn't yet arrived.
"Hands on: iTunes Match isn't yet ready for prime time"