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Apple's iTunes streaming music service could arrive in July

With its recent acquisition of streaming music service Lala, Apple is working toward launching its own streaming iTunes solution to debut as soon as the third quarter of 2010.

CNet's Greg Sandoval reported Wednesday that Apple plans to unveil its streaming music service later this year. That news will come as a disappointment to any who may have held out hope that the company would launch a service close to the debut of the iPad, set to go on sale this Saturday.

"Some had hoped such as service might arrive when Apple unveiled the iPad tablet in January, but it was a no-show," Sandoval wrote. "That same month, Apple executives spoke to the major record labels about enabling people to store their music on the company's servers and access their songs with Web-enabled devices. At that point, music-industry insiders speculated that Apple's new service might debut early this year.

"Besides a later-than-hoped-for start to Apple's streaming, all of this also means that music--which has typically played an important role in most of Apple's culture-changing devices--will be bumped to the sidelines with the iPad."

Instead, Apple will focus the iPad on visuals, with movies, games, books and newspapers being the "must have" applications for the new hardware form factor. But even with Hollywood studios, Apple reportedly hasn't done much in the way of encouraging new and unique content. One film executive reportedly said that their company was sent an iPad "to fool around with," but nothing else.

In January, it was first reported that Apple was shopping around the idea of a streaming music service that would allow users to back up and access their library from any Internet connected device.Apple reportedly sees the cloud-based streaming as a "value add" feature that could help stimulate sales.

In December, Apple acquired music service Lala for $85 million, fueling speculation of a possible cloud-based iTunes streaming service. Since then, Apple has also gradually expanded its browser-based iTunes Preview service, which allows users to search and sample songs, as well as applications, available in iTunes without launching the desktop application.