The Wall Street Journal this morning adds its weight to reports that Apple intends launching an online music download service - with songs from all five major music labels.

"For months, the man best-known in the recording industry for the slogan 'Rip, Mix, Burn' has been trying to forge a new identity: the saviour whose new online music service could represent the future for an industry struggling with the devastating effects of new technology," the report begins.

"Apple will be launching its own music service in the coming weeks," the report confirms.

The WSJ confirms that the service will integrate with Apple's iTunes music software, with individual songs available for download at around 99 cents per track, though the price may differ on a per-song basis. The service will be Mac-only, and more consumer-friendly than existing music download services. The service compensates for the lack of Mac support on existing services - currently, only supports the platform, with help from a third-party utility.

Elegant brainchild The service is Apple CEO Steve Jobs' "brainchild", the report claims. It is Jobs' attempt to create an easy-to-use, elegant music download service that offers a viable alternative to existing services that lack such elegance.

"Jobs managed to persuade music industry officials that his new creation, armed with Apple's trademark elegance and simplicity, could win over consumers to the idea of paying for online music," says the Wall Street Journal. It warns that rights issues may limit what tracks are available using the service and observes that fee-based music services need to be able to match the tracks available through illegal networks in order to attract consumers away from those networks.

The report also states Apple has sold a total of 588,000 iPods since its launch in late 2001, according to analyst firm, Needham & Co.

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