The world’s largest technology companies have a nasty habit of testing their new products solely in the world’s biggest market.
Google (NSDQ: GOOG) product after Google product either starts life or is perpetually available only in North America. And the music plank of Apple’s new iCloud service is no different – Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) doesn’t have the licenses to introduce it to the UK.
“The licensing team at the PRS have started talks with Apple, but are a long way off from any deals being signed,” the PRS For Music royalties agency tells Telegraph.co.uk. “It is very much the early stages of the negotiations and is similar to the launch of iTunes – which began in the US and took a while to roll out to other countries.”
A PRS deal could provide a template for introducing iCloud across Europe since PRS can handle the royalty collection for several European territories. The delay is also decent news for existing music subscription providers like Spotify and Deezer.
Forrester’s outgoing research director Mark Mulligan tells Telegraph.co.uk: “Apple’s cloud music service will not launch in the UK until at least quarter one of 2012. These types of negotiations take a long time… For one thing the UK arms of all the major record labels are biding their time and waiting to see how the service affects download sales in the US before they sign up to anything.”
Even in the States, the extent to which Apple has indie label support looks unclear. Just three hours before Steve Jobs announced iCloud on Monday, the CEO of Merlin, the “fifth major” representing indie labels issued a weird statement saying: “I would be very surprised and extremely disappointed if Apple were not going to ensure that independent rights holders are properly and fairly remunerated on the iCloud service.”
Under later questioning, Merlin would not confirm whether indies had re-licensed Apple for its new service, suggesting that negotiations continue.