Apple attempted to team up with Sony on the iTunes Music Store.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs offered Nobuyuki Idei, chairman and group CEO of Sony, the chance for Sony to come aboard Apple's iTunes Music Store service, the Nikkei Sangyo Shimbun newspaper reported in its September 2 edition. The offer would have allowed for joint operation of the service, the newspaper said.

The offer was made when the two met at the Sony Open golf tournament held in Hawaii this January, according to the paper, which quoted unnamed Sony sources. Jobs is reported to have wanted to bring the Sony brand into the service to maintain a competitive advantage over Microsoft, which launched a beta version of its MSN Music store earlier this week.

Sony declined to comment on the story.

Apple launched its iTunes online music store in April 2003 and the company announced the following month that the service had sold over 1 million songs in its first week. By the time the company opened the service for Microsoft Windows users in October 2003, Jobs said the iTunes service had accounted for 70 per cent of legal music downloads and that it was selling 600,000 songs a week. By July this year, the service had sold over 100 million songs, according to the company.

Sony launched the NW-HD1, the company's first hard-disk drive-based digital music player to bear the Walkman name, in August this year. The device has half the hard disk capacity of Apple's highest capacity iPod music player. The same month Sony launched its Sony Connect download service, initially offering 500,000 tracks in Sony's proprietary ATRAC (Adaptive Transform Acoustic Coding for MiniDisc) format, which means the music only works on Sony music players or using Sony software.