CEO Steve Jobs to present new cloud service in person
SAN JOSE, Calif, May 31, 2011 (San Jose Mercury News - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- Confirming widespread rumors recently filling the blogosphere, Apple confirmed Tuesday that CEO Steve Jobs will deliver the keynote speech next week at the Cupertino, Calif., company's yearly Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco.
And in a news release with a relatively surprising amount of detail for a company that likes to play things close to its vest, Apple said his speech would include details of its new "iCloud" service. The maker of iPhones, iPads and other devices did not reveal anything else beyond referencing its "upcoming cloud services offering." Bloggers and news sites, however, have been buzzing for weeks that Apple has been in negotiations with major labels to allow iTunes customers to listen to their music collections over an Internet connection, regardless of which gadget they're using.
According to CNET.com, Apple has wrapped up licensing agreements with three of the four top record companies, including EMI Music, Warner Music and Sony Music. The news site has also reported that Apple and Universal Music, the largest of the major record companies, could possibly sign a deal soon. This would give Apple recorded-music rights to most of the popular music now available.
"To offer a fully functional cloud music service, though, Apple still needs publishing rights," said the report. "Sources with knowledge of the talks said that the publishers and Apple are close to an agreement and nobody involved in the talks anticipates anything will prevent iCloud from offering songs from at least the four major record companies and their publishing units." Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, pointed out that Jobs has a clear advantage over competitors in striking deals with the labels _ as co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, Jobs was involved in creating some of the most successful and beloved animated films of all time, including "Toy Story." Those connections will serve Apple well as he goes head-to-head with Amazon and others to dominate entertainment-based cloud-computing services like music.
Striking deals with the major labels, said Kay, "is an ongoing conversation with Apple and everyone else who wants to play in this space. But Steve probably has more contacts in Southern California than anyone else in (Silicon) Valley. So he has a great chance of getting deals with the major labels. He's a familiar face down in LA." Jobs, who has battled pancreatic cancer and who in January went on his third medical leave since 2004, did not show up at the company's annual shareholders meeting in Cupertino in February and was not on the conference call when Apple announced its earnings in April. But Jobs did make a surprise appearance in March to unveil the iPad 2.
The CEO's health has been a matter of widespread speculation, so his public appearance at the upcoming conference should generate a lot of publicity. During the earnings announcement, his name came up when an analyst asked how involved Jobs was in corporate decision-making.
"We do see him on a regular basis," replied Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook, who is running Apple in his boss' absence, "and as we've said, he continues to be involved in major strategic decisions, and he wants to be back full-time as soon as he can." Jobs, who will make his WWDC keynote Monday, said when he went on his current medical leave that he intended to remain "involved in major strategic decisions of the company." At the keynote, Apple will unveil: Lion, the eighth major release of Mac OS X; iOS 5, the next version of Apple's advanced mobile operating system that powers iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; and iCloud, Apple's upcoming cloud services offering.
WWDC will feature more than 100 technical sessions presented by Apple engineers. Mac developers will see and learn how to develop Mac OS X Lion applications using its latest technologies and capabilities. Mobile developers will be able to explore the latest innovations and capabilities of iOS and learn how to greatly enhance the functionality, performance and design of their apps. All developers can bring their code to the labs and work with Apple engineers.
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