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Apple in Negotiations to Launch Mobile iTunes

Apple is reportedly in talks to introduce a mobile iTunes retail portal to expand the variety of ringtones, ringbacks and related music content available for the iPhone. Citing anonymous executive sources, The New York Times states Apple is in active negotiations with the four major record labels, with plans to launch the service in June, although probably not in time for the computing giant's annual Worldwide Developers Conference June 9.

At present, Apple offers ringtones as a 99-cent upgrade to its 99-cent full-track iTunes downloads--however, many of the 6 million tracks in the iTunes catalog are not available for ringtone conversion, and the firm is seeking to expand its inventory, at the same time introducing ringbacks. Apple is also negotiating to sell full-track downloads over-the-air directly from the iTunes store, although the major labels contend they should receive a larger kickback for OTA purchases than standard web downloads, where the wholesale price is about 70 cents.

To that end, the NYT adds that one label exec says the current negotiations offer the music industry the perfect opportunity to press Apple on some of their longstanding grievances with the iTunes model, most significantly their desire for variable pricing. [FierceMobileContent]

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