Apple and the major record labels are teaming up to create bundles of interactive features to accompany music downloads, according to the Financial Times.
The project, code-named 'Cocktail', sees Apple collaborating with EMI, Sony Music, Warner Music and Universal Music Group with an eye towards a September launch date, the newspaper reported on its FT.com site early on Monday, sourcing the information to unnamed people familiar with the situation. Apple is known for making iPod- and iTunes-related announcements at September events.
Under the purported plan, people going to Apple's iTunes store to download music would also be able to get an interactive bundle that includes material such as liner notes, lyric sheets and photos, according to the Financial Times. The 'interactive book' would let users play songs without having to return to the iTunes software.
The goal, apparently, is to spark sales of digital albums, with a nod to the music-listening habits of a bygone era. While Apple has long sold albums over iTunes, customers of the online music store frequently only download single tracks. Apple already makes album cover art available through the Cover Flow feature in iTunes.
"It's all about recreating the heyday of the album when you would sit around with your friends looking at the artwork, while you listened to the music," said an executive cited by the newspaper.
In 2008, according to industry tracker Nielsen, consumers bought over 1bn digital tracks, compared with just 65m digital albums. In both cases, the numbers were up significantly from the preceding year. All told, however, the number of albums sold in 2008 -- including CDs, LPs and digital albums -- fell 14 per cent to 428m.
The Financial Times article also touched on recent reports that Apple is working on a tablet device. The FT.com story says that such a device, possibly equipped with a 254mm (10-inch) touchscreen, could be ready in time for the Christmas shopping season.