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Apple's Jobs 'offered iTunes team-up deal to Sony'

Rejection was Sony's loss, not Apple's

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered his opposite number at Sony, Nobuyuki Idei, the opportunity to offer a version of the iTunes Music Store, Japanese newspaper the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun has claimed.

According to the report, Jobs suggested such a deal during the Sony Open golf event, held in Hawaii last January. Idei is - surprise, surprise - said to have rejected Jobs' overtures.

We have no trouble imagining Jobs making such an offer, quite possibly claiming that if Sony doesn't partner with Apple, Microsoft will end up with everything. By the time of the tournament, Jobs would also be able to point to HP's decision to back the iPod and iTunes.

All wishful thinking, of course, but worth a punt. Sony is far too wedded to its MiniDisc medium, its ATRAC music format family and MagicGate DRM technology to switch to Apple's equivalent, AAC and FairPlay. At that point Sony was gearing up to announce its first hard drive-based Walkman, the NW-HD1, with the hopes of beating Apple at the portable personal music game the Mac maker had already wrested from Sony.

Last week, Apple VP Phil Schiller said the ITMS had sold over 125m downloads since its introduction in April 2003 - 25m-odd songs having been bought since the service passed the 100m-track milestone mid July.

Sony has yet to say how successful - or not - its own digital music service, Sony Connect, has been since its US debut in May and European launch in July.

And what if Sony had taken Jobs up on his proposal? Certainly it would have brought ITMS big brand backing far more valuable than HP's support will. Sony sells far more personal audio kit than Apple does, all of which might well be used to promote ITMS rather than Sony Connect and MD.

But Apple doesn't appear to be doing too badly without Sony's help and in spite of Microsoft. It's far too early to say whether software giant's new DRM scheme, 'Janus', with its improved support for transferring 'tethered' downloads to portable players, is going to do much if anything to dent Apple's lead.

Sony's rejection of Jobs' offer - if such an offer was made, of course - will more likely harm the rejector than the rejected. ®

Related stories

Apple punts prizes as iTunes nears 100m-song target
Sony unveils HDD Walkman
Sony turns to video to boost music service
Sony Connect to launch 5 July, late
Sony and McDonalds do download deal
Sony US music service an 'embarrassment'
Sony opens US music download store

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