plans to launch its own digital music service to rival Apple's iTunes Music Store, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing unidentified sources.

The world's largest online retailer also plans to sell its own-branded portable music players, and a subscription service that would offer deep discounts and preloaded songs to users of its music players.

The company is in advanced talks with four global music companies about a digital music service that could be launched as early as this summer, according to the report. With its history of selling CDs online and its huge customer base, Amazon could pose a formidable threat to Apple's domination of the online music business.

Amazon still needs to ink licensing agreements with the four music companies: EMI, Sony BMG, Universal and Warner, the report added.

The report claimed Amazon may employ South Korea's Samsung Electronics to build its digital music player.

Amazon has discussed offering the portable music players free as part of a long term subscription package, or selling them with preloaded music that could be swapped out for other songs during the course of the subscription, according to the report.

Amazon could not immediately be reached for comment.