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Is Apple's New Maiden, NC Data Center Really a Data Center?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

There's been a lot of speculation online about what Apple might be up to in Maiden, NC. The above video, apparently shot by a local realtor, purports to show the 500,000-square-foot facility being built in North Carolina, 40 miles northwest of Charlotte. This is reportedly a $1 billion roll of the dice for Apple, so whatever it is will obviously be of strategic importance.

Some have suggested that Apple is preparing for some kind of major reset of its iTunes business, in the wake of its purchase of music service Lala in December. Lala allows members to (legally) create online shareable "playlists" (aka "radio stations") of their own uploaded music that other registered Lala members can subscribe to.

Given the large number of loading docks visible along the south side of the main building, it's tempting to speculate that this may be a fulfillment center as well as a cloud center, but then again, loading docks don't necessarily have to mean outbound shipments. These docks could also be read-only -- as in, swallowing large volumes of newly arrived books or videos.

What do you think?

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