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iMusic on the way

Music, music, music. Out of nowhere, it's become the big area of competition between tech companies. Why? Well, with smartphones out there in big numbers with strong 3G data connections, people naturally want to use those connections to listen to music. Who wants to transfer music from their computer to their phone with a goddamn wire, right?

Amazon stole a march by launching their Cloud Player service a couple of months ago, and then Google launched its Music Beta service last month. (Don't get excited, kids: they're both US-only for now.) But those services both have a big limit: they don't have the support of record companies. You can upload your personal music collection and listen to it, for now at least, and in Amazon's case any music you've bought from them is also available to listen. But there's no way of knowing how long it'll last before a legal challenge.

Apple are taking the slow-and-steady approach, taking their time in launching a new service - but making sure they get the record companies on board first. The fact that they already run the most successful digital music store obviously makes that easier!

And the signs are they're almost ready to launch. They've just signed a deal with Sony Music to use their music in the new service. That's in addition to Warner and EMI, who they recently reportedly made deals with. Only Universal is left of the 'big four' record companies, so it sounds like mainstream music fans will be well-catered for but indie lovers might not at first.

With the record companies (almost) all on board, it looks like the stage is set for Apple to launch the new service at their WWDC conference next month.

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