Apple Sings Cloud Tunes

CUPERTINO, Calif. ( TheStreet) -- Could storage maker EMC ( EMC) be the catalyst for Apple's ( APPL) eagerly-anticipated shift to cloud services? Quite possibly, according to a bevy of analysts, who say that Apple's cloud plans are finally taking shape.

Apple and EMC, which report quarterly results Wednesday, are said to have clinched a deal that could soon take iTunes into the cloud. There is also chatter that Apple has lured one of Microsoft's ( MSFT) top data center executives to its staff, further fueling cloud expectations.

Last week, Storagenewsletter.com reported that Apple had purchased 12 petabytes of storage from EMC's Isilon -- in real world terms, that's enough space to store the contents of all U.S. research libraries six times over. The Web site, citing a source within EMC's Isilon business, said that Apple was EMC's largest customer during the December quarter.

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"This report further supports our view that Apple is leveraging its recent data center investments to deliver media content through an innovative cloud architecture," said Bill Shope, an analyst at Goldman Sachs, in a note. "At first, this may launch as a service for storing users' existing iTunes content remotely, but over time it could morph into a full-fledged streaming media platform for iOS devices."

EMC declined to comment when contacted by TheStreet, while Apple, notorious for keeping supplier details closely guarded, has not yet responded to a request for comment on this story.

Analysts are convinced Apple's cloud is on deck. "We believe that Apple will most likely be using this storage capacity for streaming audio and video services that it will launch by the fall," said Barclays Capital analyst Ben Reitzes. "Isilon's capabilities dovetail nicely with our vision for Apple's upcoming Cloud Tunes -- an extension of iTunes into the cloud that allows easy access to digital content from any Apple device."

Apple, however, is unlikely to discuss its cloud plans during its second-quarter results, which will be released after market close on Wednesday. Apple is expected to report second-quarter revenue of $23.34 billion and earnings of $5.35 a share, according to analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters.

The tech giant has, however, promised "to unveil the future of iOS and Mac OS," at its Worldwide Developers' Conference in June, an event normally set aside for the launch of new iPhones. This year's software-heavy WWDC just might feature some cloud play, say analysts.

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