Free AppleCare with each new iMac 5K or Mac Pro purchase: Apple Price Guides updated Nov 22nd (exclusive coupons)
Tuesday, August 03, 2010, 02:00 am PT (05:00 am ET)

Rumored iTunes cloud service could be delayed further

Mired in licensing issues, Apple's rumored full-scale cloud music service might be further down the line than previously thought. A limited feature service could be released by the end of the year.

Sources told CNet that if 'in the cloud' music features from Apple are released in the next few months, they will probably be "modest in scope," rather than more robust offerings as previously rumored.

After Apple purchased the online music streaming service LaLa late last year, speculation about the possibility of an iTunes streaming service increased. In January, one music industry veteran went on record saying that an upcoming version of iTunes would make users' iTunes libraries "available from any browser or net connected ipod/touch/tablet."

Although CNet claims that causes for the delay remain unclear, licensing issues and personnel changes may be a large part of the problem. According to the report, Apple "still hasn't obtained the licenses needed to store or distribute music from the cloud."

Additionally, music industry sources said Monday that "one of Lala's four founding members, someone who moved to Apple after the acquisition, has recently left the company."

These delays could cost Apple if Google can launch a competing service first. Although the Mountain View, Calif.-based company has partnered with music streaming services in the past, it has yet to launch a full-featured cloud music service. CNet's sources report that "Google's music attempts have never appeared this concrete before."

On the other hand, positive evidence that the project remains on track can be found by looking at Apple's $1 billion North Carolina server farm project. Several analysts are predicting that the project is being built specifically for a cloud media service. In July, Apple Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer announced that the server farm is "on schedule" to open by the end of the year.