The major music labels “operated in fear” of Apple’s removing them from the iTunes Store during the latest round of negotiations leading to the company’s Jan. 6 announcement of variable pricing and DRM-free sales, a new report suggests. Citing high-level music executives, the New York Times reports that Apple’s primary goal during the negotiations was to secure over-the-air music downloads for iPhone users, and that Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Rolf Schmidt-Holtz, chairman of Sony Music, had a particularly terse discussion on Christmas Eve over the rollout schedule for variable pricing on the store. Apart from Apple’s dominant share of online music sales, the labels are also wary of the power of the iTunes Store front page, which former Epic Records president Charlie Walk described as “a very powerful thing right now in American pop culture,” adding that it “immediately validates a hit song.”

The iPhone leads all cell phones in mobile gaming, according to a new ComScore report. iPhone owners accounted for 14 percent of mobile game downloaders in November, with four of the top 10 phones used for games being iPhones. The 8GB iPhone 3G was ranked first, followed by the 8GB iPhone at the number two spot, the 16GB iPhone 3G in third, and the 16GB iPhone in seventh. In addition, 32.4 percent of all iPhone users said they downloaded a game in November, compared with a market average of 3.8 percent. [via Atlanta Business Chronicle]

A small number of iPhoto ‘09 users are reporting difficulties in syncing photos to the iPhone and Apple TV following installation of the updated photo management program. According to an Apple Discussions post, photo albums from iPhoto ‘09 do not appear in the Photos tab in iTunes, and syncing photos to either device results in an “unknown error (-50).” One user reports that he was able to successfully sync his devices after unchecking the “Sync photos from iPhoto” option. iLounge editors have been unable to recreate the issue, suggesting that the bug may affect only a limited number of users.

Duck Hunt, a $1 port of the classic Nintendo Entertainment System game, has been removed from the App Store at the request of Nintendo, which is claiming copyright infringement. The game was a copy of the Nintendo NES Zapper game, using nearly identical game art and sounds. The developer, Lucas Mansfield, says he plans to continue updating the game, albeit with different artwork and audio.

Charles Starrett

Charles Starrett was a senior editor at iLounge. He's been covering the iPod, iPhone, and iPad since their inception. He has written numerous articles and reviews, and his work has been featured in multiple publications.