Apple to beat Google on music storage server launch
Published 22/04/2011 | 05:00
APPLE has completed work on an online music storage service and is set to launch it ahead of Google, whose own music efforts have stalled, according to several people familiar with both companies' plans.
Apple's plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an internet connection.
The maker of the wildly popular iPhone and iPod, Apple has yet to sign any new licences for the service, and major music labels are hoping to secure deals before the service is launched, three of the sources said. Apple has not told its music partners of when it intends to introduce its music locker, they said.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment. The news emerged as Apple's quarterly results again smashed Wall Street's expectations, fuelled by record iPhone and Mac sales, offsetting lower-than-expected sales of its iPad tablet computer.
The world's most valuable technology corporation said a record 18.65m units of the category-defining iPhone - its flagship product - moved in the March quarter, outpacing the 16m or so expected.
It moved just 4.69m iPads -which command an 80pc share of a burgeoning tablet market in which Motorola and Samsung also compete - but analysts said that would not detract from strong long-term demand.
The stellar results came as concern is growing over how component supply constraints after Japan's earthquake and tsunami would squeeze margins and restrain iPhone and iPad sales in coming months.
"Dynamite numbers across the board. The only hiccup is lower than expected iPad numbers," said Capital Advisors Growth Fund portfolio manager Channing Smith.
"We can attribute some of the weakness to stocking issues at some of the retail outlets and obviously the supply chain issue in Japan. Unfortunately, the supply chain issue will likely persist for the coming months but once we get past summer and the supply chain issues are resolved, it's all systems go again for Apple."
Apple, Amazon and Google are battling for control of new digital media platforms through which everyday users will access their music and videos.
While Amazon is the leading e-reader maker, Apple and Google are competing on mobile platforms like smartphones and tablet devices.
Google had been expected to launch a music service as a feature of its Android mobile operating system last Christmas.
"They keep changing what they're asking for," said a label executive who asked not to be named because the talks are confidential.
Two of the sources said Google originally wanted to launch a basic locker service and an 'iTunes-like' store. In recent weeks it has suggested exploring licensing for a subscription service, they said.
Talks are ongoing with major music labels including market leader Universal Music Group, owned by Vivendi, as well as Sony Corp's Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Group.
Music industry executives are pointing to changes in top management at Google as a possible reason for the technology company's uncertain music strategy. On April 1, co-founder Larry Page took over as chief executive with Eric Schmidt moving up to executive chairman. Android chief Andy Rubin led most of the early talks with the labels.
Apple and Google are keen to offer services that give music fans more flexibility to access their media wherever they are rather than tying them to a particular computer or mobile device.
In late 2009, Apple bought Lala, a cloud-based music company, but closed it down in April 2010, leading to speculation that it would launch an Apple-branded cloud service.
Earlier this month, Google bought Canadian mobile music company PushLife as part of its drive to help Android users share and purchase content across devices. Last May, Google also bought Simplify Media, a remote media company, but has since closed it down.