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Apple planning a cloud-to-mobile music service?

Apple may be planning a cloud-to-mobile music service, which may make its former lock-in strategy pale in comparison.

Wired's Eliot Van Buskirk thinks that Apple's hiring of IBM chip-meister Mark Papermaster may suggest a shift in its digital music strategy. I think Van Buskirk may be right:

Want to run an advanced music service with robust streaming to iPhone descendants? You might want to have the guy behind some of the latest advances in server design on board.

At the other end of any sort of cloud-based music service are the microprocessor chips in laptops and portables. Apple paid $278 million for the chipmaker PA Semi earlier this year, and a chip-design expert with 26 years of experience at IBM. In addition to helping Apple revamp its servers, Papermaster could help Apple design a server-to-microprocessor architecture to run a connected music service and other applications that call on the cloud.

The upside to this is ease-of-use for the consumer. The downside? Absolute Apple lock-in.

I noted recently that openness is a second-order consideration for buyers, but it may quickly become a first-order concern if Apple's service is so soup-to-nuts airtight - from cloud to desktop to mobile - that consumers, once in, can't get their music out. Apple has demonstrated its willingness to use extensive means to entrap customers (e.g., the alleged use of iTunes in new MacBook models to prevent jailbreaking iPhones).

Will this be any different?