Apple Inc. moved to compel consumers to buy more of its devices on Monday—not with a fancy new phone, but with software and online services designed to more closely tie its gadgets together.
Chief Executive Steve Jobs took a break from his medical leave of absence to show off a new online music service called iTunes Match.
The service would for the first time—with the blessing of record labels—give legitimacy to digital music that users have saved on their computers regardless of whether it was purchased or illegally copied.
For $25 a year, Apple’s software will let users remotely access thousands of songs in their private collections, whether or not they were obtained through iTunes. The software, which places copies of the songs on Apple servers, will work with any computer but won’t sync with non-Apple mobile devices such as BlackBerrys or Android-based tablets.
The service is an effort by Apple to strengthen its dominance in the digital-music industry, making it difficult for Amazon.com Inc. to take customers and combat the rise of smartphones running Google Inc.’s Android software.
Apple didn’t unveil a new iPhone at its annual conference for developers, as it has in each of the past four years. Instead the focus was on online services and new versions of the company’s mobile and computer operating systems.
While Mr. Jobs and his lieutenants were speaking in San Francisco, Microsoft Corp. executives were on stage in Los Angeles showing off new games for the company’s Xbox console.
Apple said iTunes Match will work with iCloud, a free service that stores documents, photos, music, apps and other content remotely and pushes it to every compatible device that a user has, including iPhones, iPads and Macintosh computers.
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