Apple (s aapl) is ready to launch an online music storage service that will let iTunes customers stream their songs from a remote server wherever they have Internet access, according to a new report from Reuters (s tri). Several people familiar with the plans were cited as the news agency’s source for the report.
Like Amazon(s amzn), which launched its own cloud music locker service in late March, Apple has yet to secure any new or additional licenses with record labels, but those labels are said to be in talks with Apple in the hopes of working out a new arrangement prior to the service launch, according to three of Reuters’ sources. Apple hasn’t revealed any firm dates to those partners, says the sources, but they also say it will launch ahead of Google’s (s goog) own cloud music storage offering.
Apple could be using Amazon’s unlicensed push into cloud media storage as a negotiating tool to help expedite the launch of its own service. While Amazon has since begun holding talks with labels, possibly to sidestep threats of legal action from the music industry, it has set a precedent Apple could follow if labels are making demands the Mac-maker isn’t comfortable with.
Apple’s North Carolina data center is also set to go live this spring, according to past statements by company COO Tim Cook. That facility is likely to provide the infrastructure required to launch a remote music storage option for Apple’s many of iTunes customers.
Apple has yet to reveal anything regarding its plans for cloud-based music, but it acquired streaming music company Lala in 2009 and shuttered the company’s business in 2010, leading many to speculate it intended to use the company’s expertise to launch its own similar service. A streaming service that preserves Apple’s pay-per-track and album music sales strategy, but also makes that music available to any connected Mac or iOS device, makes sense as Apple faces growing competition from online subscription media service providers and the launch of similar options from competitors like Amazon.
It’s been a long time coming, but let’s hope these latest rumors prove true. With the growth of the App Store and the introduction of more advanced apps with larger file sizes, I’m really starting to feel the pinch of iOS device storage limitations. Keeping my music in the cloud would help considerably, though tiered data plans might make people think twice about taking full advantage.