Mobile Lowdown 5-19-11: Apple Cloud, EMI; VZW Sues FCC; Latest Gartner Figs

Our look at some of the big stories in mobile today: Apple’s apparently getting closer to a cloud music product after signing a deal with EMI; Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) goes after the FCC in court over data roaming rules; Gartner and Millennial Media release their latest figures respectively on mobile sales and on mobile ad impressions; Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) celebrates 10 years of retail and steps up its bid to make the SIM even smaller.
Apple/EMI: The arrival of a cloud-based music service from Apple looks like it might really be around the corner now. After many months of negotiations, Apple has long last inked a deal with EMI over streaming music, and has nearly completed similar deals with Sony (NYSE: SNE) Music and Universal Music Group, according to a report in CNET, citing unnamed sources in the music industry. Apple apparently already has a deal in place with Warner Music Group (NYSE: WMG) — although that has not been confirmed by either company. If true, this would help Apple steal a march on Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN), which have also been looking to launch cloud-based music services, but have yet to ink the requisite licensing deals with the major operators.
Verizon Wireless: The U.S.’s biggest wireless operator has filed a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission over the regulator’s rules on mobile data roaming. The operator alleges that getting involved in mandating roaming agreements (and potentially pricing) is outside the FCC’s mandate. The suit, filed in the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., is the same court where Verizon filed its suit over the FCC’s net neutrality rules (a case that has, for now, been overturned on a technicality). Smaller, rural operators, predictably, are coming out in favor of the FCC in this case. (via Washington Post and Total Telecom)
Mobile sales stats: The transformation of power players in the mobile device market continues apace. According to Q1 figures out from Gartner today, the top three handset makers worldwide in terms of unit sales (not value) — Nokia (NYSE: NOK), Samsung and LG (SEO: 066570) — all lost market share compared to the same quarter a year ago; while the next four — Apple, RIM (NSDQ: RIMM), ZTE and HTC — all gained or stayed level (RIM was the exception in that group, keeping the same market share). Despite this, at 25.1 percent, Nokia still represented a quarter of all handset sales. Among smartphones, Android was the most-sold platform, representing 36 percent of all unit sales; while Symbain took a 27.4 percent share and iOS took 16.8 percent.
Millennial Media: As you would expect for a platform that is performing the best in terms of unit sales, Android also topped the list for Millennial Media’s latest figures for impressions on its mobile ad network. It took at 53 percent share of all impressions.
More Apple: A look from ZDNet at how the media and analyst community totally missed the importance of Apple’s retail store strategy when the company fist launched it ten years ago; while Apple steps up its strategy to make the SIM — and therefore its mobile devices — even smaller, by filing an application with the European telecoms standards body ETSI, and getting the backing of mobile operator Orange for the project — surely a route preferable making “soft sims” and cutting out the operator altogether.