An anonymous reader writes "TechCrunch and The Verge are reporting that Apple is near a deal with Universal Music to provide a streaming 'iRadio' music service. 'Apple is expected to launch a web radio service similar to Pandora's later this year, provided that executives there can strike an agreement with Sony Music Entertainment as well as music publishers. Talks with Sony, which operates the third label, Sony Music Entertainment and Sony / ATV, the music publishing company jointly run with the estate of the late singer Michael Jackson, are said to not be as far along towards reaching a deal. ... As for the financial terms, Apple will not receive the steep discounts it had sought for the labels' music.' Apple's 400 million active iTunes accounts could give even Pandora, with its 200 million users, something to worry about. 'For startups and streaming music companies, this means looking closely at the competitive advantages offered by their own platforms and decided how best to position their own services. A key advantage, and one that will likely get emphasized by virtually everyone challenged by an iRadio, is cross-platform compatibility. Apple will likely be able to offer something along those lines through iTunes on Windows, but for the most part it'll be a strictly iOS/Mac affair. That, combined with personalization and recommendation engines, along with other value add features, will be the way to combat an iTunes streaming service, but no matter what, an Apple product will change the face of this market.'"
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