Like Netflix before it, Apple is currently investigating adaptive streaming technologies that will let the company deliver a range of audio qualities to their iCloud and iTunes Match subscribers based on a subscriber’s available Internet bandwidth.
A report in the Guardian has indicated that the new system would be built directly into the iTunes Match system, and it would let users upgrade their libraries to HD audio rather than the AAC format they are currently getting from Apple:[quote]Potentially, it will allow an iPhone user to access smaller file types to avoid using significant mobile internet bandwidth, but allow those with a fast connection to download or stream studio quality music. It is unclear whether the files will convert to the smaller types such as AAC in real time, or if Apple will convert the master file to several different types upon submission to iTunes.[/quote]
Like we mentioned above, a number of web technologies already provide similar experiences in the video world. Netflix scales your video quality based on available bandwidth, and the NHL Center Ice package allows customers to select multiple streaming qualities for games being streamed across the web. In both cases, it makes for optimal viewing based on a customer’s Internet bandwidth.
I personally pay for the best Internet I can get access to from ISP, and in most cases I get fantastic streams from video services. Having HD audio streams from iTunes would be fantastic, but having the audio scale based on my bandwidth would be even better, making it less costly to stream content to my iPhone while I’m on the 3G network.