Apple is close to finalising agreements with major record labels in a move that would allow consumers to access songs via the internet using any of its gadgets.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Apple has already signed contracts with EMI, Sony Music Entertainment and Warner, and is close to reaching a similar agreement with Universal Music.
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Storing vast collections of content in huge data centres so that it can be accessed via the internet, often referred to as “cloud” services, is set to become a major new revenue source for tech companies.
Apple’s launch of such a service has been widely anticipated following similar announcements by Google and Amazon.com.
Licensing agreements with the major record labels would be a huge advantage for Apple over its rivals as consumers would not have to send copies of their existing collections to the internet.
It is thought Apple’s new iTunes service could be unveiled at Apple’s annual gathering of software developers in San Francisco in June.
Unlike in recent years, where Apple used its Worldwide Developers Conference to launch new versions of the iPhone, the company has said that software will be a major focus of this year’s show.
An update to the iOS operating system that runs Apple iPhones and iPad tablets is sure to be the most closely watched development.
Recent sales data shows that Apple’s position in the smartphone market is threatened by a wave of handsets running Google’s Android software.
The iPad’s dominance of tablet computer sales has also come under attack from a growing number of devices based on Android.
Meanwhile, Apple has defended a claim by Amazon.com that “app store” is a generic term in its latest filing related to its trademark infringement suit against the Amazon Appstore.
Apple filed its suit against Amazon one day before the March 22 opening of the Amazon Appstore, which sells mobile apps for phones and tablets running Google’s Android operating system.
“Apple denies that the mark App Store is generic and, on that basis, denies that the Amazon Appstore for Android service is an app store’,” Apple said in a document.
“Apple further denies that defendants have the right to use App Store as a trademark in connection with Amazon’s mobile software download service for Android devices.”
Apple said that as soon as the words “app” and “store” are paired, Apple’s ownership kicks in.
“Apple denies that, based on their common meaning, the words ‘app store’ together denote a store for apps,” the document said.
“Apple denies that the words ‘app store’ are commonly used among many businesses to describe mobile software download services and further denies that the term ‘app store market’ is used to describe the market for mobile software download services.”
Apple has yet to specify what monetary damages, if any, it is seeking from Amazon in its suit, but has asked the court to rule that Amazon stop using the name “Appstore” to sell Android apps.
In a bid to justify its claim that the term “app store” is generic, Amazon has used a quote made by Apple chief executive Steve Jobs, who said Apple’s app store is “the easiest-to-use, largest app store in the world, preloaded on every iPhone”.