Apple has been reportedly talking to music companies in order to allow its iTunes users to have easier online access to music they purchased, according to a new Bloomberg report issued late Thursday.
Apple is negotiating with music companies including Vivendi SA (VIV)'s Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group Corp. (WMG) and EMI Group Ltd., Bloomberg reported, citing three people with knowledge of the plans.
This move would let users pay once, and use thier music anywhere. Such a deal would provide iTunes customers with a permanent backup of music purchases. The service would also allow downloads to iPad, iPod and iPhone devices linked to the same iTunes account.
Apple has already got AirPlay, which lets users play songs from any iTunes device through an Apple TV. And this week Apple said the new version of its iOS operating system will enable users to play music and video stored on one device on the screen of a second device, over WiFi.
The record labels are eager to maintain demand for digital downloading amid rising popularity for Internet services such as Pandora Media, which don't sell tracks and instead let users stream songs from the Web, whatever the device. As digital-download sales stall, online purchases seems to be not enough to make up for declining sales of compact discs.
However, the big question is what kind of incentives Apple could offer the major recording labels to go ahead with the company's scheme. The music labels have been wary of Apple in the past, and may be reluctant to give up even more control of their product to consumers. We could see music labels requiring a premium price for a pay-once, download everywhere service.