Apple's Billion Dollar Data Center Will Be Done This Year. iTunes In The Cloud, Anyone?

During Apple’s Q3 2010 earnings call, CFO Peter Oppenheimer fielded a question about the massive data center Apple is currently building in Maiden, North Carolina. The reporter wanted to know how it was coming, and if there were any updates? “It’s on-schedule,” Oppenheimer quickly said. “We expect it completed by the end of the calendar year,” he continued, noting that it should be fully operational after that.

The questioner didn’t follow-up with perhaps the most important question: what exactly is Apple going to be using this billion dollar baby on? After all, when it was revealed that Apple was pouring $1 billion into the center, sites such as Data Center Knowledge noted that this was about twice what companies like Microsoft and Google invest in the data centers they use for cloud computing.

The official statement from last year seems to be: “The facility will provide Apple with a major East Coast infrastructure hub to support its iTune music store and iPhone app store.” But again,this thing is something like 500,000 square feet. That’s about five times the size of Apple’s other regional data centers. Instead, might this be the central hub of Apple’s often-rumored iTunes-in-the-cloud offering?

Again, the questioner didn’t ask. And even if they did, Apple most likely wouldn’t say. But both rumors and logic suggest that such an offering is in the works. Some rumors suggested Apple may launch such a service this Summer, but that does not appear to be happening now. Instead, might they preview what they’re working on during their traditional iPod event in the Fall? After all, they will likely need to counter Google’s impending Google Music offering. If this data center will be fully operational in early 2011, we might hear something. Again, if that’s what they plan to use it for.

I mean, just look at this thing. I find it hard to believe that it’s for MobileMe.