Apple Orders 12 Petabytes for Cloud-Based iTunes, MobileMe?

Apple’s plans for their MobileMe revamp and cloud-based media services are starting to take shape. Although no official announcement regarding either of the services has been made, we are almost positive we will see them at some point this year.

Apple’s been relatively quiet about the purposed functions, but tech blogs are happily churning out rumors and speculation on the upcoming features. The latest gossip is that Apple has ordered as much as 12 Petabytes, which is equal to about 1000 Terabytes, from a global leader in scale-out storage services. What could they be planning?

It’s not that difficult to put together. Apple has been publicly constructing an enormous data center in North Carolina for almost a year now. It is expected to go live sometime this spring. Back in March we reported on a rumor that Apple would be relaunching MobileMe this month, with a cloud-based music “locker” that would be accessible from iDevices and desktops.

What does all this have to do with the newly acquired storage? Isilon Systems, a Seattle-based company, is world renowned for their large-scale storage solutions involving digital content. Their celebrity list of clients includes MySpace, NBC Universal, Sony, and XM Satellite Radio. According to the report from Storage Newsletter, Apple’s 12 Petabyte order makes them Isilon’s largest space holder out of their 1,500 clients.

Although we really only have speculation to go off of, it’s pretty easy to see what Apple is building up to. If you combine the recent high-capacity storage deal, the huge data farm in North Carolina, and the rumors of a revamped MobileMe service, everything starts to make sense. If Apple does this right, they could be looking at expanding their iTunes empire tremendously.

A new social networking service attempt, one that dwarfs Ping, is unlikely. But if the service is embedded into their iOS, Apple’s large customer base would be fairly apt to use it. It’s perfectly conceivable considering Apple believes that there are over 200 million Apple IDs registered.

A revamped MobileMe would be welcomed if they dropped the price tag and integrated it into iOS properly. It’ll certainly be interesting to see what Steve Jobs and company have planned for all of this server space.

What do you think Apple’s planning with all that storage? A more competitive social networking service? Cloud-based iTunes?