Apple is said to have "completed work" on its long-rumored cloud-based iTunes music streaming service, which will allow users to access their entire collection of music from any Internet-connected device.
Citing anonymous sources, Reuters reported Thursday that Apple is "set to launch" its streaming service. Apple has allegedly achieved the milestone ahead of rival Google, which has seen its own efforts for a streaming music service stall.
"Apple's plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection, said two of these people who asked not to be named as the talks are still confidential," the report said.
It also said that Apple does not yet have any new licensing agreements with the recording industry. It's possible that Apple could proceed without those licenses, as Amazon did, when it launched its own cloud service.
But music labels reportedly still hope to secure new deals with Apple before it launches its own streaming service. Those in the record industry have not been given an indication when Apple plans to debut the new product.
While Apple is forging ahead, Google is allegedly stuck in negotiations with record labels. One source said that the search giant has changed its proposals numerous times at the bargaining table, switching from an iTunes-like storefront with a digital locker service to a music subscription service with a recurring fee.
Music executives reportedly feel that Google's shifting stances may be a result of regime change at the company. Company co-founder Larry Page recently took over for former CEO Eric Schmidt, signaling a shift in direction for the company.
Rumors of an iTunes cloud service have persisted for some time, but it was said that Apple found itself in a stalemate in negotiations with record labels.
As those negotiations have continued, Apple has pushed forward in other areas behind the scenes, hiring key personnel and working on its anticipated "digital locker" service. Just last week, AppleInsider was first to report that Apple is assembling a small team to build "the future of cloud services."
In February, The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple will unveil an enhanced version of its existing $99-per-year MobileMe cloud service. The new MobileMe is expected to include a digital "locker" that wills tore personal files such as photos, music and videos.