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Apple Ready to Take Down Google Music

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We knew Apple had an ace or two up its sleeve.

In preparation for its inevitable response to Google Music and Amazon's Cloud Drive, Apple has been signing deals with record labels to keep music sales within an iTunes-in-the-Cloud service. According to CNet, a cloud-music licensing agreement has been signed with EMI Music, and ones with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment are said to be imminent by industry sources. A deal with Warner Music Group reportedly was inked last month.

Quickly signing with all four of the top four record companies would definitely be in Apple's best interest as its WWDC conference kicks off June 6. CNet's sources indicate that the deals could be put in place by as early as next week, however they were unsure if a cloud-based iTunes would be unveiled at the event.

But it's hard to assume that they'd keep something like that under wraps.

As I reported last week, Apple benefits greatly from a later launch behind Google and Amazon. Despite being third to market, the company is given more time to learn from the mistakes of its competitors' rushed launches and deliver a superior product. There are upsides to both Google and Amazon's services, however a scan-and-match library isn't among them. Should Apple implement Lala's process of scanning a user's library and matching it to tracks already online -- and since Apple acquired Lala in 2009, there's little reason to believe otherwise -- that's a huge bonus for Cupertino.

Add music licensing and seamless integration into iPhones, and Apple could continue its reign as the King of Online Music.

And if we're lucky, both Google and Amazon will strive to improve their noble-but-flawed efforts, and consumers will benefit from some more healthy competition.

So let's hope Apple rocks the music industry once again.

(See also: How Apple Could Defeat Google Music and Google Music Is Awful at Recommending Songs)
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.