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The state of Mr Jobs health has often become a subject of fevered speculation ahead of Apple events, and the question of his presence has in some cases overshadowed the products.

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The new online music service is expected to be the centerpiece of the Apples efforts to build a bigger following for its online services under the iCloud name. That reflects the increasing importance that services are coming to play in the battle with rival technohealth serviFT.comlogy giants like

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Published: May 31 2011 18:31 Last updated: May 31 2011 18:31

By Richard Waters in San Francisco and Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson in New York

Steve Jobs, who has been on medical leave since January, would appear publicly next week as part of the announcement of what it dubbed the iCloud.

Despite the dominance of its online iTunes and App stores, Apples other internet services have iled to gain traction. Adoption of Mobile Me, its collection of data backup and other personal services, has been held back by its subscription pricing at a time when most rivals are free, and Ping, a social network built on top of iTunes, has iled to gain traction.

The US consumer technology company also broke with normal practice by revealing that

Of the four major record labels, Apple has agreed terms with Sony Music,

Warner Music and EMI, and is understood to be close to a deal with Universal Music.

The advanced news of next Mondays announcements broke with the intense secrecy that Mr Jobs usually insists on for Apple events, and came as the company is racing to put the final pihealth services careerseces in place for

The concern that Apple could uses its dominance of digital music to build a stronger foothold in cloud media services prompted both Amazon and Google to rush out rival music services of their own in recent weeks before agreeing terms with music labels and publishers.

an online music service that would let users listen to digital songs they already own by streaming them onto any computer, smartphone or tablet.

health serviFT.com,Apple has taken the unusual step of pre-announcing a broad push into online services, as it seeks to reinforce its consumer gadgets with a stronger presence in the cloud services on which they increasingly rely.

As the only licensed service, Apple will at a minimum be able to copy users music libraries and replicate them from its own remotely-held catalogue of songs, for access from any computer, smartphone or tablet. Users of the Amazon and Google services have to upload their collections first, which can be a time-consuming process.

Amazon, according to analysts.

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