Will April see the unveiling of Apple's new mobile music plans? According to a number of sources within the music industry, it's possible -- but don't bet on it.
"It's possible, but not probable," says one. Digital music tongue-wagger Wayne Rosso (of Grokster and the never-launched Mashboxx fame) claims on his blog that Apple is "pressuring major record labels to have all of the music licenses in place for the long rumored locker service" by next month, or Apple will unveil the service without them. He even goes on to say that Apple and Warner Music Group have finalized a deal for exactly that.
While WMG declined to comment, our sources say no such deal exists, and that Apple has yet to even fully confirm exactly what its music plans even are. According to our sources, the range of potential services Apple has discussed range from a simple music locker service on one end to a full-blown subscription service on another. Either extreme -- and any variation between -- would require new licenses with the major labels, and those have not yet materialized.
One source expects Apple will finalize its exact music plans in the next few weeks, after which the meat of the licensing negotiations can begin.
Rumors of a mid-April Apple event have been circulating for a few weeks now, with the focus expected to be on a new version of the iOS operating system, and potentially an upgrade to the MobileMe service. The latter is what raises the eyes of the music industry, because one of the expected MobileMe updates is a music synching system.
MobileMe is Apple's online storage and synching service. To date, it's been used to synch Mac-based contacts and calendar entries with mobile phones. It's expected to be the vehicle for Apple's music locker service, allowing users to synch music files between devices via a sort of "buy once, use anywhere" type of offer.
Apple has held April events before. Last year in April, for instance, it unveiled a new version of iOS. But this latest rumor comes from a German Mac blog Macerkopfe.de, a relative newcomer in the Apple rumor mill, and as such carries little weight.