Stretford , Urmston , Trafford Photographer

Apple Unveils iCloud Music Streaming Service

Apple chief executive Steve Jobs has unveiled a new web-based music streaming service called iCloud.

Mr Jobs received a standing ovation as he stepped back into the spotlight to launch the service which Apple hopes will send it into a new stage of growth.

The company CEO, who survived a rare form of pancreatic cancer, had been forced to take leave in January due to health problems , but appeared at the annual Worldwide Developers Conference in California for the launch.

Mr Jobs made a few opening comments before handing over to marketing chief Phil Schiller, but even a brief appearance is expected to boost the company’s shares.

Analyst Shaw Wu, from brokerage firm Sterne Agee, said: “It was good to see him appear despite being on medical leave.

“And at the same time, it looks like he is having his lieutenants handle most of the keynote, which is good in showing that Apple is a team and not a one-man show.”

The iCloud is a web-based service that lets consumers stream music to any Apple device.

The cloud-based service is expected to scan the user’s entire iTunes library and allow them to access the songs anywhere.

Sources also say Apple has struck deals with three of the four major record labels, allowing them to offer a vast range of music to subscribers.

Competitors Google and Amazon.com already have their own open-sourced software and investors say the move to the iCloud is necessary to help Apple stay competitive.

“It’s absolutely critical,” said Michael Yoshikami, chief executive of YCMNET Advisors , who expects iCloud to include technology that scans a user’s hard drive and provides access to music found there from the company’s own servers.

“Eventually, people are not simply not going to tolerate a hard drive crashing on a local basis and having all their information lost,” he added.

However, some critics question whether the new technology puts too much power in one company.

“It’s about locking in customers – something that Apple does very well,” said one.

“You buy everything off Apple, which supplies you with all the material you want. But while that’s very convenient, it does mean that it’s very hard to move away from the company.”