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Coca-Cola turns to Apple for iTunes deal

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em — Looking to rebound from a failing music venture of its own, Coca-Cola is reportedly in talks with Apple Computer over an iTunes promotion to hype its new no-calorie cola.

According to a report in Europe's DigitalBulletin, the soft-drink maker hopes to garner appeal for its Coke Zero brand by offering UK customers discounts at Apple's iTunes Music Store.

Word of the deal comes less than a week after Coca-Cola said it would cease operation of its download service, which launched in 2004 with a music catalog of over 250,000 tracks.

The service — once Europe's largest for legally downloaded music — buckled quickly following Apple's entrance into the region with its European Union iTunes Music Store.

According to data from U.K. market research company XTN, iTunes held a 54 percent share of the British online music market in November 2005 compared to 6 percent for Mycokemusic.

As part of its deal with Apple, Coca-Cola is also reportedly in talks to sponsor digital content that will be accessible through iTunes.

Insiders told DigitalBulletin the iTunes tie-up could help Coca-Cola maintain its edge in the competitive UK soft-drinks market.

Twice before, Apple has teamed with Coke rival Pepsi Co. in offering similar promotions in the US.