Apple is reportedly setting the stage for a move into digital music streaming, with service that aims to steal the spotlight from streaming giants Spotify and Pandora.
Label negotiations are currently underway for licensing, according to the Wall Street Journal, with the goal of offering a better service with more user flexibility. While Spotify and Pandora, both with massive user followings, have made great strides in adapting the public to the concept of streaming – long predicted as The Next Step in music consumption, the psychological transition from file ownership to cloud access is a tricky one. Greater options for listeners will undoubtedly soften that impact, as well as the fact that the entire tech world tends to flock like lemmings to anything Apple releases (iPhone 5, anyone?).
Apple's new service will undoubtedly include advertising, though there's been no report on fees for the service. The likelihood of a preinstalled app on devices such as iPad and iPhone is strong – though it's a safe prediction that Apple will allow users to access their music at home via their iTunes account. No launch date has been set and it will not be an offered feature on the new iPhone 5.
As GIGAOM points out, Apple's success with the iTunes listener market has been tricky, with both the company's Ping and iTunes Match services failing. Apple announced its decision to shut down its Ping service earlier this year.