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Apple 'iDataCenter' Ready To Open

Apple's data center in Maiden, North Carolina is expected to be operational very soon.

Citing unnamed local officials, Data Center Knowledge reports that the so-called iDataCenter should be ready to begin service "any day now."

But it may not be enough. The Charlotte Business Journal reports that Apple may be looking to double the size of its 500,000 sq. foot data center before it even opens.

Revealed last year, Apple's $1 billion North Carolina data center is believed to an infrastructure expansion intended to strengthen the company's cloud computing capabilities. The company also operates data centers at its Cupertino, Calif. headquarters and across the San Francisco Bay in Newark, Calif.

Apple is widely believed to be improving its ability to deliver streaming music and video to desktop computers and mobile devices, possibly as a subscription service through iTunes. The company's decision to launch its new MacBook Air with only limited storage -- it features only solid state storage rather than more capacious hard drives or an optical drive -- can be seen as an effort to discourage the storage of large media files and to promote streaming.

The company may also be looking to its new data center as a way to improve its MobileMe service and/or to offer additional mobile services, like a competitor to Google Maps on iOS devices.

Two recent Apple acquisitions -- Placebase last year and Poly9 this year -- provide online mapping services. The company has made no public statement about its reasons for buying these two companies.

But given Apple's competition with Google in the mobile arena and its dislike of being dependent on third-parties for critical services, it wouldn't be surprising to see an iMap service emerge and displace the Google Maps app on the iPhone in a year or two.