Apple nears ‘iRadio’ streaming deal with Warner and Universal in a dozen markets, royalties on par with Pandora rates

We’ve heard no end of rumors of a streaming Radio player from Apple.  We even found pay radio buttons in the iPad’s music player app code earlier this year:

The Apple radio service, once rumored for late 2012 to Q1/2013, has now been pushed back to mid-late 2013 because of difficulty signing the labels. Today the Verge says that Warner is all but signed up at rates comparable to what Pandora pays the labels  – which is to say a lot. Earlier reports put Apple’s asking price much lower.

Apple is expected to sign its first interner radio licensing agreement with a major record label perhaps as soon as next week, multiple sources with knowledge of the talks have told The Verge…Apple initially offered to pay 6 cents per 100 songs streamed, or about half of what Pandora pays. Now, Apple will pay rates nearly “neck and neck” with Pandora, one of the sources said.

Update: CNET reports that Universal is also close to signing and that Apple is hoping to go into a dozen territories by summer:

The press has dubbed the service iRadio, in negotiations with the labels Apple is referring to it as its “new streaming service,” says a source…Apple is building some unique features, such as the ability to jump back to the beginning of a song…Apple is hoping to quickly unveil the service in up to a dozen territories, according to sources, including the U.K, France, Germany, Australia, and Japan.

We’re hoping that Apple has an announcement to make at WWDC, if not earlier.

Apple Stores pushing new table-based sales strategy, minor emphasis on third-party product support

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Apple is slowly rolling out a new customer service initiative across its retail stores called ‘table selling.’ With the new strategy, Apple Store employees are assigned a product table where they are responsible for working with groups of customers with different needs, albeit the same device, according to people familiar with the strategy. Previously, customers were individually helped on a first-come, first-serve basis and organized by an “iQueue” system that often resulted in lengthy wait times and customers walking out.

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