Apple streaming music service rumors rekindled by hidden iOS 6.1 icons

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A set of files buried in Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iOS 6.1 mobile operating system update is renewing speculation the company will launch a streaming music service later this year.

9to5Mac reports that the iPad Music app on jailbroken iPads running iOS 6.1 includes so-called "radio button" files marked with icons similar to the antenna tower radio logo once used in iTunes for Mac. The buttons also contain the word "buy" in their filename, which could imply new functionality. The same files are not found in the Music app on jailbroken iPhones, however.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times first reported on an Apple streaming radio service last fall, stating the computing giant is mulling a multi-platform effort that would program content based on users' favorite artists, songs and genres. Sources have said the service would likely take the form of a preinstalled application integrated into Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad.

Soon after, Bloomberg reported Apple was deep in talks with record label partners ahead of a proposed first-quarter 2013 launch. Insiders stated the labels demanded an upfront licensing fee as well as a percentage of ad revenues and tools for integrating commercials spotlighting their recording artists. Sources also said Apple views the streaming initiative as a way to grow its iAd mobile advertising platform and is looking to integrate the service with its iTunes digital music storefront to fuel download sales.

Apple has declined to comment on the rumors, but many analysts feel streaming radio services fit seamlessly into its portfolio. "Radio is a natural step for Apple," BTIG Analyst Rich Greenfield told Bloomberg last year. "This helps Apple dominate in cars, where people listen to an average of two hours of radio a day… If Apple offers a radio product, it will be far superior to anything else on the market."

For more:
- read this 9to5Mac article
- read this Verge article

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