Apple to Mirror Music Libraries in Cloud Service, Report Says

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Fresh details of Apple's plans for a cloud music service indicate, if accurate, that Google and Amazon's rival services will be eating iPod dust, at least temporarily. According to a Bloomberg report, Apple plans to allow users to mirror their local libraries into the cloud, removing the need to upload songs, and -- unlike Google and Amazon -- it has music labels' blessing.

Apple is widely expected to unveil at its developers' conference in June a cloud music service, a digital music locker that some call iCloud. The service would rival similar offerings from Amazon called Cloud Player and from Google, called Music Beta. While Amazon and Google have laid out their deck, Apple has yet to show its cards.

Earlier this month, reports indicated that Apple is negotiating with music labels for its cloud service. Three out of the four major labels have signed up: EMI and Sony Music Entertainment, with Universal Music in the finishing stages. These deals alone give Apple an advantage over Amazon and Google, because the company won't have to store multiple copies of the same song on its servers.

So, instead of asking you to go through the lengthy process to upload your songs to the cloud (as with Amazon and Google services) Bloomberg reports Apple's iCloud will just scan your library and mirror it on its servers. This would not only remove the need to upload songs and make the process easier for the user, but also have an added benefit: apparently Apple will replace any low-quality songs with higher-quality ones.

The big unknown at this stage is, of course, pricing -- and a deal with music labels probably means Apple will have to charge for the pleasure of using its cloud music service. Some reports indicate Apple won't charge for its service at the start, but it would further down the line. Bloomberg speculates that it could be included in a revamped MobileMe, also rumored to be due for a refresh.

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