Reports: Apple acquires 'icloud.com' domain

Adds to speculation that a new cloud-based music and storage service is coming

Apple has purchased the domain "icloud.com," which it will use as the name of its new online music and storage locker service, several reports have claimed.

GigaOM first reported on the transaction late Wednesday when it cited an unnamed source who claimed Apple had paid Swedish company Xcerion $4.5 million for icloud.com.

Xcerion's online file-storage service, formerly known as iCloud, changed its name to CloudMe earlier this month. Xcerion registered cloudme.com just three weeks ago.

Since GigaOM's report, others have said Apple bought the URL. Today, the Digital Daily blog -- part of the Wall Street Journal's All Things Digital site, also cited anonymous sources to say that the deal went down.

Xcerion has not replied to questions about its domain name change.

The icloud.com domain continues to redirect to Xcerion's CloudMe site, and the WHOIS registration record for icloud.com still shows the Swedish firm as the owner of the domain.

If the talk about Apple's purchase is accurate, it would follow the same line as rumors in 2008 that preceded the launch of MobileMe, Apple's current online storage and synchronization service.

Just weeks before Apple debuted MobileMe -- a refresh and rename of its .Mac service -- bloggers noticed that the company had registered me.com with MarkMonitor, a domain management service used by large companies to protect their brands.

Last month, Amazon introduced a digital music storage service called Cloud Drive that prompted renewed speculation that both Apple and Google would soon launch their own locker services. Analysts believe that both of those companies have been negotiating with the major record labels to finalize their plans for subscription-based music services, which would presumably be part of, or in addition, to their online storage services.

In late February, Apple pulled the retail version of MobileMe from its online store, another clue analysts read as pointing to the a change in the service. Users have been able to sign up for a free 60-day trial of MobileMe since then, however.

Apple also owns a number of domains that start with its trademark letter "i", including imac.com, itunes.com, ipod.com and iphone.com.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

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