Rumour: Apple buying iCloud.com for $4.5 million

Apple's widely-predicted cloud-based media streaming service could be a little closer as rumours emerge that the iPod maker has been on a URL shopping trip.

Quoting secret sources, Gigaom says that the Cupertino company may have paid as much as $4.5 million to grab the rights to use iCloud.com, a URL until now owned by cloud storage and thin client outfit Xcerion.

Adding weight to the tittle-tattle, Xcerion has recently rebranded its iCloud service as CloudMe, which would seem like a very odd move if Apple were not involved in some way.

It's no secret that Apple has recently splashed out millions on a new datacentre in North Carolina, and recent reports suggest that the company has equipped the new facility with 12 petabytes of storage, enough space to host the contents of 200,000 uncompressed DVDs.

Apple is currently playing catch-up with both Google and Amazon who currently offer cloud-based media locker services, and most pundits think it's only a matter of time before iTunes in the cloud becomes a reality.

Apple, which already has a cloud-storage service of sorts in the form of its expensive yet well-received Mobile.me offering is said to have been in talks with the Big Four music labels for months now, and it could be that the conclusion of these negotiations is the only thing holding up the process.