It’s no secret that Apple is building a large data center in North Carolina. Various aspects of the building process have been discussed in the local, national and tech news. The facility has even been detailed in aerial photographs. The biggest unanswered question is the purpose behind this monolith structure – for what new or old service(s) is Apple building it?
In a recent research note, Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi tries to answer this question with several theories that range form the plausible to the somewhat outlandish. Here is a short list of what he proposes:
- iAds.The proliferation of iOS devices are expiated to climb to over 200 million by the end of 2011 and Apple will need large data center to handle the resulting ad traffic from all these connected devices. Apple’s iAds are multimedia heavy and require a fair amount of bandwidth to serve up.
- MobileMe. Rumors have been running rampant that Apple may transition MobileMe from a paid to a free service in the upcoming months. Many iOS users shun the $99 yearly fee for MobileMe, but most would use the service if it was free. With millions of devices in the wild, Apple will need a robust data center to handle the potential increase in customers now storing their information in the cloud.
- iTunes Subscription service. Ever since Apple bought LaLa, people have been speculating about how Apple intends to use this acquired talent and technology. Many suggest Apple will expand iTunes to a streaming subscription service that will require a large data center to store the music library and serve up the content to iOS owners.
- Video streaming service. This idea is an offshoot of the iTunes streaming music service above. Encouraged by the success of Netflix, Apple may be considering its own streaming video service using the catalog of movies and TV shows it offers in iTunes. Some even speculate that Apple may acquire Netflix, but that is bit far-fetched considering the success of the streaming service. Netflix is doing too well to be ripe for the picking.
- Voice recognition or Navigation. Finally, Apple may use the data center to host a voice recognition or navigation service. iOS currently trials Android in both voice recognition and navigation services. Rumors suggest the Cupertino company is looking to improve these two features in upcoming versions of iOS. Apple has acquired more than one mapping company over the past several years and has been on a hiring spree for voice recognition engineers.
So what do you think, is Apple merely trying to ramp up iAds or is it really considering a buyout of Netflix? Join in the fun by critiquing the above theories or proposing your own in the comments.