April 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

Did Apple Really Just Pay $4.5 Million for iCloud.com?

This old iCloud logo could be due for an upgrade at the hands of Apple's graphic designers.

Apple may have found a name for its widely-rumored cloud-based music service, which would allow users to store their music online and stream it from iDevices, subscribe to a catalog of millions of songs for $5 (on computers) or $10 (on portables) per month (the going rates), or both.

GigaOm’s Om Malik heard from an anonymous tipster (and what’s the other kind where Apple is involved?) that Xcerion rebranded its iCloud storage locker to CloudMe.com — a domain that it purchased on April 5 — rumor has it because Apple purchased iCloud from the company for $4.5 million, a domain name price that hearkens back to the dotcom boom of the late ’90s.

Branding is important to Apple, and everything it does has to be called the “i-something,” and this rumor is consistent with that. Malik says the source is “familiar with the [Xcerion],” which sometimes means that a source works at the company in question but doesn’t want to be identified with the information. For sure, Apple would have made Xcerion sign a confidentially agreement about this, if the deal did in fact take place. As of right now, though, Xcerion is still the current owner of iCloud.com.

Despite the vaporous nature of this information, the story is taking the tech world by storm this morning, which if nothing else, speaks to the level of interest surrounding Apple’s putative cloud music service. There’s no guarantee that iCloud.com, assuming Apple owns it, will be the home of this music service. But Apple already owns a general-purpose cloud locker in the form of MobileMe, and iTunes — arguably the most bloated software in popular usage for what it does — is desperately due for a major update. It can’t even transfer music wirelessly to Apple’s WiFi-capable devices.

Amazon may have been first out of the gate (with several key advantages), but Apple often takes its time in order to deliver something that simply works better. Just ask Eiger Labs, Creative Labs, Diamond Multimedia, HanGo/Remote Solutions, RCA, Pontis, and all the other companies that made MP3 players before Apple “finally” released the iPod back in ’01.