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According to multiple sources in the music industry, Apple has been shopping around the idea of a streaming music service that would allow users the ability to back up and access their music from any Internet-connected device. CNET writes that Apple sees the cloud-based streaming feature as a "value add" that could help to stimulate music download sales.
All indications point to the service being up and running as soon as spring of this year.
On Tuesday, Michael Robertson, 12-year veteran of the digital music business and former CEO of MP3.com predicted that a cloud-based version of iTunes would soon be a reality:
"An upcoming major revision of iTunes will copy each user's catalog to the net making it available from any browser or net connected ipod/touch/tablet," he wrote.
"The Lala upload technology will be bundled into a future iTunes upgrade which will automatically be installed for the 100+ million iTunes users with a simple 'An upgrade is availableâ¦' notification dialog box."
"After installation iTunes will push in the background their entire media library to their personal mobile iTunes area. Once loaded, users will be able to navigate and play their music, videos and playlists from their personal URL using a browser based iTunes experience."
In December, Apple purchased music streaming service Lala for $85 million. It is believed that Apple will use the knowledge and technology gained from this acquisition in order to make the streaming music service a reality.
Apple has already leveraged some degree of Lala's streaming tech, with 30-second song samples being available on the iTunes Preview website, allowing users to view and listen to content available from the service without opening iTunes.
CNET writes that it is unlikely but not impossible that Apple will include the streaming service in their upcoming January 27 press event. It is widely believed however, that Apple will introduce both its new tablet device along with iPhone OS 4.0.