November 15, 2011

Why Do I Want iTunes Match, Again?

Adam Dachis, writing for Lifehacker:

“Apple’s much-delayed iTunes Match service launched today, bringing their vision of music in the cloud to iTunes and iOS users alike. But what is it, exactly, and is it worth your money? Here’s a look at how iTunes Match works and if it’s right for you.”

An even-handed piece on the what iTunes Match is about, and why customers might want to pay for it.

My question remains unanswered, however. What does iTunes Match provide for a fee that isn’t already available from the desktop iTunes application and iOS 5, free?

I can already sync all of my music, stored on my MacBook Pro and organized by the iTunes application, to my iOS devices by USB tether or WiFi. WiFi sync is particularly useful, because it automatically happens every time I plug in my device for a battery charge.

I can even set my MacBook iTunes application, and each iOS device, to automatically download songs, apps and books purchased on another device. Buy it on the iPhone, the content appears on the iPad and laptop.

Some cloud-based music services, such as Amazon’s, allow customers to stream their purchases live. iTunes Match doesn’t perform streaming. It’s a download-only service, syncing music from the cloud to my devices. So there’s no additional usability benefit to iTunes Match.

The only additional benefit for my $25-per-year fee is the high-quality copies iTunes Match creates in iCloud if it can match a given song. But who needs audiophile-quality music on a mobile device, where the listening occurs (at best) through a good (at best) pair of ear buds?

In short, what does iTunes Match provide that isn’t already handled within my home network, free?