The New York Times (free registration required) is reporting today that people close to the Apple and Universal Music discussions have cautioned that a deal was unlikely to be concluded. “The talks between Apple and Vivendi covered the concept of buying as much as a third of the music unit, according to people close to the discussions. But the talks appear to have been just exploratory discussions that did not go far. The notion of having Apple buy all of Universal Music was also discussed, but the likelihood of Apple’s making that offer seemed remote to the people close to the discussions yesterday.”