Thursday brought reports that Apple struck a deal with EMI Group for its upcoming cloud-based music service, indicating that the company still needed to reach an agreement with the other two major record labels –Sony Music and Universal Music – before the service officially (and legitimately) goes live. Apple previously scored a licensing deal with Warner Music first back in April.
Following Thursday's report, Bloomberg on Friday revealed that Apple landed a licensing agreement with Sony Music, inching it one label closer to possibly launching the new cloud-based music service during its Worldwide Developers Conference taking place in San Francisco on June 6 – 10. Insiders close to the situation said that Apple is close to closing negotiations with the fourth and final label, Universal Music. But even with the four major labels under its belt, Apple will still need to pursue agreements with music publishers which control different rights than the actual labels.
For a while it was speculated that Sony wouldn't agree to Apple cloud service after launching its own Qriocity streaming music offering here in the States back in February. There was even talk that Sony Music may even pull out of iTunes, that it would be a conflict on interest. But Sony assured consumers that a withdrawal wasn't in the books, that it still generated tons of revenue from Apple's platform and saw no sign of departure in the immediate future.
Once launched, consumers will have the ability to purchase and store the tunes on Apple's servers rather than download them locally to a PC or iOS device said sources who requested to remain unnamed. While no additional details were provided, it's likely that consumers will be able to both stream and cache music, the latter for listening when offline.
Currently it's unknown if Apple plans to charge for the new service. The music plans may actually be part of a larger overhaul of Apple's MobileMe platform which allows users to store pictures, contacts and other files directly on Apple's servers which can be accessed from the Internet. This will reportedly put Apple in a better place to compete with Google's non-music services and the Android platform.
Typically Steve Jobs uses the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference to reveal the latest iPhone, but insiders claim that won't happen this year. Instead, it may serve as the launching pad for the overhauled MobileMe and the cloud-based music service. Apple already said that the event will focus on software, ranging from the new version of iOS to the latest Mac operating system called Lion.