Apple's iRadio service said to be delayed into summer, or longer

Apple's much-expected streaming music service was supposed to launch last month, a new report says. Now it'll be summer at the earliest.

Wait, doesn't Apple already do radio?
Wait, doesn't Apple already do radio? Josh Lowensohn/CNET

Apple's long-rumored streaming music service won't be arriving until this summer, or later according to a new report.

Citing sources, The New York Times says that Apple's still wrangling with Sony over licensing rights, adding delay to the service that Apple had originally aimed to launch last month. Those people now believe that negotiations will be sorted out in time for a launch this summer, or later in the year.

The report goes on to say that the service was being designed to come preinstalled on Apple's devices instead of an additional app that needed downloading from the App Store, and that Apple would support it through its iAds advertising service.

In a separate report, The New York Post says that record companies have scoffed at Apple's plans for a music service, saying the tech giant is offering too little to labels in order to stream their songs. That offer is said to be 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, or about half of what Pandora pays, and well under the 35 cents Spotify is paying labels, sources told The Post.

Adding credence to The Times' report on Apple's once-planned February launch, is a set of buttons and code referencing "radio" that were spotted in an update of Apple's iOS software. These features were not active or available on the software itself, but nestled in some code strings.

The reports come at a time when Apple rival Google is set to launch its own streaming-music service as part of YouTube. Sources told CNET yesterday that Google's aiming to launch its product this summer that would work on desktop and mobile devices, and was also working on another service for Google Play. Google too is still in negotiations with Sony Music, as well as the Universal Music Group, sources said.

Reports that Apple is working on a streaming or subscription music service have lingered for years, with the conversation always coming back to the deals with labels. Apple owns nearly two thirds of the legal music market, something that adds extra scrutiny to the possibility of a new service, or a change to its existing business model. At the same time, Apple's been beaten to the punch by a proliferation of streaming music services that have both free and paid services, from Pandora to Spotify and RDIO.

A report from Reuters earlier this week suggested Apple could be seeking partners for its technology, including Beats. Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly met with Beats CEO Jimmy Iovine late last month to discuss a potential partnership for Lovine's upcoming service, which will offer curated music to subscribers.

Apple's rumored music service does not have a name, though Apple's typical product naming conventions have been to stick an "i" in front of product names, something that started with the first iMac and was drummed up by former TBWA\Chiat\Day exec Ken Segall.

Update at 4:14 p.m. PT: Billboard has weighed in as well. Citing sources, Billboard's Glenn Peoples also says Apple has been shopping around the 6 cents per 100 song deal, which has been rebuffed. Peoples also says record labels haven't actually seen a demo of the streaming service in action, only presentations of its expected feature set. Billboard says the service is expected in "late summer" while a separate report from Bloomberg suggests a vaguer "by the end of the year."

 

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