data center servers t001 300x217 Apple building one of the worlds largest data centers. But why?Apple is about to build a 500,000 square feet data center space in North Carolina. At that size it would place it among the largest data centers in the world.

Apple’s current data center in Newark is a little over 100,000 square feet, while most data centers around the world don’t pass the 200,000 square feet mark.

According to the Charlotte Observer, the site is primarily to support iTunes and App Stores. That means that Apple is looking at taking over some of the services provided by firms like Akamai to stream media and apps to Apple devices.

But what if there’s more to it? A competing Apple search engine, free Mobile Me, a huge investement into cloud computing?

Rich Miller at Data Center Knowledge certainly believes so:

“Cloud computing is a hot trend, and I’d be surprised if Apple isn’t thinking hard – and thinking differently – about cloud computing,” says Miller. “The companies that are building the biggest data centers tend to also have the biggest cloud ambitions.”

The facility is expected to require roughly $1 billion in investment over the majority of a decade, while generating thousands of jobs.