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Apple's September Event: iTunes Music Sharing, Not Streaming?

Apple iTunes event

The tech world is all in a fluster about Apple's Sept. 1 special event, and the rumors are beginning to swirl. But is Apple going to surprise many, and focus on clever music sharing rather than the vogue for music streaming?

Some new information suggests that Apple hasn't approached the big record labels yet to get them on board for a future streaming-music revamp of iTunes. This runs contrary to lots of speculative thinking about the direction Apple may be taking iTunes in, and it suggests Apple isn't going to be jumping on the streaming music bandwagon like so many other folks are doing at the moment. What it does agree with is the rumor that when Apple bought up streaming music service Lala, the team was redeployed inside Apple to build video streaming systems rather than audio-based ones.

Instead, Apple may be concentrating on sharing music powers, possibly with the arrival of a Web-based iTunes system that syncs with your home computer-based one. An online iTunes installation could be a much simpler way to implement the sort of advanced social media-based music sharing and "music discovery" that companies like have been experimenting with through Twitter. And since we've been hearing that Apple was keen to incorporate social media into its various services, it also backs up a long heritage of rumors and leaks.

A Web-based iTunes system, complete with sophisticated back-end code, may also be a prerequisite for wireless music transfers between your own archive and your iPod Touch, iPhone, or iPad—a feature that many Apple device owners have long yearned for. This would all explain why Apple recently nabbed Spotify's chief designer. Who better to help Apple get a half-cloud-based system off the ground before it makes a bigger push into real streaming services?

Finally, there's the choice of graphic Apple used in its invite to the Sept. 1 soiree. We know the company is meticulous in its attention to detail, so we can suppose it thought carefully about using a traditional acoustic guitar in the image. What's more social than a guitar around a campfire?

To keep up with this news, follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter.