Apple earlier this week made the highly unusual move of forecasting the topics of Steve Jobs' keynote at next week's Worldwide Developers Conference, causing many to ask… why?
The answer, or at least part of it, lies in Apple's desire to control the message around the details of iCloud-the cloud service the company said would be part of Monday's reveal. About a month ago, rumors circulated that Apple had purchased the icloud.com domain name from Xcerion, a cloud computer service based in Sweden. Yesterday, Apple formally took ownership control of that domain, as indicated by a simple WhoIs query conducted by CNET. Apple also formally applied to trademark the iCloud name with the European Union.
Both moves are in the public domain. Had Apple not notified us all already that it was going to introduce something called iCloud, multiple press outlets would have picked up on these steps and taken all manner of thunder out of whatever Jobs has planned for the keynote stage. By tipping its hand early, Apple was able to control the formal confirmation that iCloud was indeed a topic of the forthcoming keynote.
There's some history here. Apple prefers to introduce a new product on the keynote stage only when it becomes immediately available, such as the iPod. The company shuts down its online store, Jobs makes the announcement, and the new product then appears both on the revised online store as well as on Apple retail shelves.
But Apple can't control the details for all products. The iPhone, for instance, and all subsequent iterations of it had to be announced weeks in advance of its availability because new mobile phones require registration with the FCC, information also publically available.
Apple needed to take ownership of both the iCloud.com domain and the trademark in advance of announcing it as a service. Had it not, some other entity could have tried to trademark the name ahead of it and hold it ransom. The fact that Apple has already assumed ownership of the domain name suggests that at least some functions the iCloud service that Apple will unveil Monday will be immediately available.
Does that include a music streaming service? Perhaps. There are still a few licensing issues to be worked out between major labels and publishers, not to mention the independent labels. If those aren't resolved by Monday's keynote, Jobs could easily reveal the details of what the music service will look like once it does launch in the near future.