Online retailer Amazon is set to rival Apple's iTunes with the launch of its own digital music business this summer.
It is understood that Amazon is hoping to set itself apart from rivals by producing its own branded portable music players, specially designed for the retailer and set to be filled with preloaded music, as well as offering users subscription discounts.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Amazon is at an advanced stage with the new venture and is in talks with music firms, including Vivendi Universal, Sony, Warner and EMI, about licensing.
One option being considered is preloading the players with lists based on customers' previous music buying habits, which subscribers can also swap for other music.
It is further speculated that the players could even be free or heavily discounted to subscribers, in the same way as mobile phone contracts.
The move into digital music is seen as vital for the survival of Amazon as consumers move away from physical media such as CDs and DVD.
Latest figures show that Amazon is already making inroads in the digital music market, selling an estimated 10% of all portable players in the US.
The Wall Street Journal adds that Samsung could emerge as a likely hardware partner for the venture.
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