It’s been rumored for some time that Apple would be combining its killer iTunes music library with a streaming music service, thereby creating what would arguably be one of the world’s best solutions for streaming music. Speculation has ramped up lately, as competitors like Microsoft, Spotify, Rdio, and MOG vie for the customer’s attention – and monthly subscription money.

But according to a report from CNET today, Apple is still far from completing deals with record labels to create such a service, even if Apple already has fantastic relationships with them in regards to selling their vast catalogs of music. Music industry insiders told the publication that the service, dubbed iRadio, is not likely to be announced any time soon. Deals with the four major record labels have been stagnant, much like iTunes, to the point that it’s simply a waiting game for either Apple to make a better offer, or for the labels to realize that partnering with Apple (along with other services companies) would be in their best interests.

As of right now, Apple still has the largest online music store – but that title is quickly starting to mean nothing in a world populated with streaming music. I can’t remember the last time that I actually sent money to Apple for an album, or even a few songs. The fact of the matter is that streaming services are where it’s at, and Apple currently isn’t there. Whereas before, Apple was an innovator in the selling of online music, the company has practically been a streaming-benchwarmer for the past few years as its competitors run on by with the ball and score massive amounts of subscribers. In essence, Apple is not only losing potential subscribers to its competitors, it’s also losing potential buyers, too, since nobody buys music once they get hooked into a streaming service.

Apple is known for its (at times) overbearing control over its customers – which, of course, the company says is due to user experience – so it’s odd to me that such a company isn’t doing all it can to bring a streaming service to its customers. Apple has the user base, the money, and the industry weight to throw around, yet “iRadio” is still nowhere to be found. Instead, opening up iTunes will present to you a library of your downloaded .mp3 files, which not only takes up a lot of room but also ends up costing exorbitant amounts of money when compared to streaming service subscriptions.

Since I use platforms that Apple supports – namely and mainly Mac OS X, Windows, and iOS – I would be very interested in using an Apple-branded streaming service. Right now, I’m paying for MOG so I can write a comparison feature at the end of the month to compare the three big services: Rdio, Spotify, and, of course, MOG.

But if I could throw a fourth one in the mix, one with Apple’s extensive library of music? Well, that would be just wonderful.

[CNET]