Amazon is planning to launch a music service to rival more established music stores like iTunes and Napster according to an article in the Wall Street Journal.

According to the article, Amazon is currently in talks with four global music companies about offering a digital music service with a range of features that will hopefully set it apart from its rivals.

Amongst the rumours is the suggestion of branded music players (provided by Samsung in a similar deal to the one it has with Napster) that come pre-loaded with songs ready to listen to, or a subscription service similar to Napster's to run alongside the company's DVD rental package.

According to the paper, music executives privately welcome the plans as they see it as a credible challenge to Apple's hegemony in both digital music and portable players and can see that Amazon will be able to use its massive global customer base to penetrate homes across the world.

Reports also suggest that the e-tailer could launch a service as soon as the summer if it tied up with a player already in the business.

But what ever the move, the Apple bubble is likely to be a hard one to pop. In the last six months we've already seen a number of MP3 player manufacturers retreating from the market, including one the original company's, Rio withdrawing altogether.

But with such a strong market position in America - the online retailer sells an estimated 10% of digital music players in the U.S alone - the retailer is in a prime position to offer an alternative.