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The Day The Music Died - Lala Closes

David Silversmith
David Silversmith

Last December Apple purchases an online music service.  Apple has just announced that Lala will shut down on May 30.  Did Apple just kill a competitor or will they move iTunes to the cloud?

Customers of cloud-streaming music site Lala got an email informing them that the service will be discontinued as of May 31. The email went on to inform subscribers that they would receive a credit to the iTunes store for any remaining balance in their Lala account.

Lala gave users the option of downloading the song's MP3 for prices similar to iTunes or the option to buy a cheap stream-only version of the song.  Lala also allowed users to preview entire songs. Listening to a whole song instead of a predetermined 30-second snippet was one of the key unique features that Lala users loved.  They could find out if they really liked the song before making a purchase. Lala, which boasts a playlist of over eight million tunes, also provided an application that scaned your iTunes collections and then stocked your Lala account libraries with the same songs, based on the understanding that you had aready purchased the music.

Since Apple bought Lala late last year there has been speculation as to what Apple really wanted.  Some thought that Apple was more interested in buying the people behind Lala's streaming service and their experience than the service itself.  Another, less positive view, was that Apple bought Lala simply to take it offline because it didn’t like the way the service was pricing music streams.  That seemed unlikley because Lala’s cloud-based music store wasn’t gaining that many customers compared to iTunes’ dominant growth.

Other industry watchers speculated that Apple might incorporate Lala’s cloud technology as a Web subscription service for iTunes. Apple's use of Lala’s cloud approach will allow users to have online access to an iTunes-purchased song - essentially a pay-once-play-anywhere concept.  But this is an approach that the music industry has opposed, filing numerous lawsuits against streaming music services.

For now, all we can do is wait for Apple's next announcment.  Will iTunes move to the cloud or will Apple lead the charge of stopping users from getting access to their digital-music collections from any device in any location?

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