Apple in talks with record labels about expanding iPhone music services

Apple is reported to have approached major record labels in a move to expand the music services available on its iPhone. It is understood that several record companies are involved in the talks with Apple to sell tracks as ringtones and ringback tones, and also sell songs from its iTunes Store directly to iPhones.

Ringtones are a profitable business because most companies can charge a higher price for a shorter piece of music than for the full song. In the US, for instance, Apple offers ring tones as a $0.99 (£0.50) upgrade to its regular $0.99 music tracks. Steve Jobs, Apple’s chief executive is expected to reveal the plans on June 9 at the company’s developers’ conference.

Apple is reportedly also hoping to add answer tones, also known as ringback tones – songs that a caller hears instead of the ringing while waiting for someone to answer. In some cases, ringback tones command an even higher wholesale price from the record labels than ring tones.

Also understood to be under discussion is whether Apple can sell songs from its iTunes Store directly to iPhones using faster mobile broadband networks, supplementing current sales over WiFi and fixed internet connections. The next generation of phones is expected to use 3G technology, which permits mobile song downloads.

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