Apple's 'uncharacteristic' iTunes Match delay: 4 theories

The typically punctual tech titan had promised that its cloud-based music storage service would launch by October 31. It's November 2. What gives?

iTunes Match, the iCloud-based music storage, missed its end of October roll out date because, some suspect, it has to work out some kinks.
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In early October, Apple announced the imminent launch of iTunes Match, which will allow users to store their music libraries and other files in the cloud. Apple promised its many rabid fans that Match would be available later in the month. Well, it's now November, and Apple, which isn't commenting on the delay, "has uncharacteristically missed its own deadline." What happened? Here, four theories:

1. Apple is learning from past mistakes

"It's possible that the company is [just] being cautious, given the problems it's had rolling out online services" like MobileMe in the past, says Dan Moren at Macworld. In the case of MobileMe, which managed addresses, calendars, and storage — and which was unstable and had syncing issues when launched — Steve Jobs was livid. He lambasted employees, telling them that they had "tarnish[ed] Apple's reputation" and they "should hate each other for having let each other down." With Match, "Apple really wants (and needs) to get this right the first time," says Matthew Panzarino at The Next Web.

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2. Match is still buggy

"People [who] have tested the beta of iTunes Match have indicated that the service still has its share of problems," says AppleInsider. Since the end of August, developers have been able to test a beta version of the service, and Apple has been fixing issues as they arise. According to some testers, the service still periodically fails to match local files with songs available at the iTunes Store, and stalls when trying to scan a user's music library.

3. There may be licensing issues

"It is possible that Apple is having difficulty procuring licensing deals it needs to launch Match in the U.S.," says Panzarino. These deals are probably "incredibly complex." Streaming services like Spotify and Rdio have publicly stated just how difficult it's been to negotiate streaming rights, and while Match isn't a streaming service in the same way, its deals are likely just as complex, if not more so.

4. Blame Siri

"The launch of Siri and its network congestion issues may have delayed iTunes Match," says Panzarino. The iPhone 4S's new voice-recognition assistant is heavily taxing Apple's servers, triggering issues with traffic and delays. Match would place a great deal more stress on Apple's data centers. If Apple's "continuing to evaluate the network stability of its cloud services," that could explain the wait.

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