• Cloud-Based iTunes in July?

    When Apple bought streaming music startup Lala last year, there was immediate speculation that Apple was looking to combine its online store+music library software into an iTunes streaming service, which would store users' own songs in the cloud and allow them to be streamed over the Internet to their devices. No confirmation of that conjecture has ever been received, but there was an intriguing hint in CNet earlier this week that indicates music industry executives have been told to expect streaming music service in the second half of this year.

    Some industry observers had been looking towards iTunes in the cloud to be released with the iPad, and along with the absence of any deal on TV and movie content for the new device, this is disappointing news for people who had been hoping for a "revolutionary" new way of getting entertainment for the "revolutionary" new device. Apple seems to be hard at work on closing those deals, but has only gotten book publishers and some newspapers and magazines so far. Recent hiring at Apple's super-sized new server farm in the US Southeast, however, has lent credence to the rumors that the company is poised for something big in online services.

    CNet's Greg Sandoval noted on Wednesday that Apple has been courting music bigwigs since the beginning of the year. The same month they unveiled the iPad, Sandoval wrote, "Apple executives spoke to the major record labels about enabling people to store their music on the company's servers and access their songs with Web-enabled devices. At that point, music-industry insiders speculated that Apple's new service might debut early this year."

    Since acquiring Lala last year, Apple has allowed the service to continue operating but has discontinued the MusicMover software which allows syncing of a user's personal library to Lala's servers. Apple has also implemented iTunes Preview, which allows users to search the Music and App Stores without launching the desktop application.
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