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Music Laundering & the Role of Lion

There is a vital caveat here: iTunes Match is record label approved music laundering. Apple has agreements with all the big four labels (Universal, EMI, Sony and Warner) to do this and while $24.99 may not seem a large sum to potentially let so many pirates off the hook it is revenue they would otherwise not have had. It also offers pirates a blank slate which is a compelling purchase decision. If you suffer from paranoia about the copied music on your computer, at this moment, you'd be daft to go anywhere else.

Of course not everything Apple announced on Monday was ingenious, crafty or downright sneaky – they were just the best bits. The traditional stuff has more holes.

For example, iOS5 may contain more than 200 new features, but a great deal of them are catch-up moves and, in some cases, simple plagiarism. The heralded new 'Notification Center' smacks of Android, iMessage is a direct rip-off of BlackBerry Messenger, the physical Camera button has been seen on many other phones for years and reminder lists, photo editing and Twitter integration were already available from third party developers who are now no doubt quivering in their boots. None of this is to say these features aren't welcome, they are – they just weren't the clever bits of the evening.

Another area which came in for criticism was Apple's lack of a true Spotify rival. 'Sync' may have been the phrase of the evening, but 'stream' was entirely absent. From a customer perspective it is disappointing. Apple's much heralded 18m iTunes library has the potential to create a class leader, but for some time talk was negotiations with labels had stalled and Apple will be happy to reap the rewards of iTunes Match for now. Besides Apple doesn't worry about Spotify, it worries about Google and Amazon and neither of those two giants have a better solution right now.  
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Then there was the elephant in the room: Mac OS X Lion. It surprised many that several low-key, previously announced Lion features started the evening, but there was no chance of doing it after iOS and iCloud given the almost anti-PC rant Jobs was to go on. "The idea of the PC as the digital hub has broken down in the past few years," he declared. "Keeping [our] devices in sync is driving us crazy. We’ve got a great solution to this problem… We’re going to demote the PC and the Mac to just be a device. We’re going to move the digital hub, the center of your digital life, into the cloud."

So what is the role of Lion? Like Windows 8 it is to bridge the gap between Mac and mobile device and to do this it is OS X which is all give and no take. In fact given their ever greater similarities it wouldn't be surprising if Apple skips Mac OS XI entirely and ultimately moves all Macs over to iOS and ARM.

Yes WWDC may have started with the PC, but every subsequent announcement was about finishing it off…
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