WSJ: Apple to use newly acquired Lala to overhaul and extend iTunes Store service

New iPod touch 8GB, 32GB & 64GB“Apple Inc., the company that restructured the music industry around its iTunes service, is exploring an overhaul of the way it sells and stores music that is aimed at extending its influence to the Web, according to people briefed on the strategy,” Ethan Smith and Yukari Iwatani Kane report for The Wall Street Journal.

“The key vehicle for the move is Apple’s newly acquired music-streaming service La La Media Inc. for which Apple paid $85 million, according to people familiar with the matter,” Smith and Kane report.

MacDailyNews Take: $85 million, $80 million, $17 million, $3 million, whatever; any one of them is petty cash to Apple.

Smith and Kane continue, “Where Apple’s iTunes requires users to download music onto a specific computer, Lala.com lets users buy and listen to music through a Web browser, meaning its customers can access purchases from anywhere, as long as they are connected to the Internet. Apple is considering adopting that same model for songs sold on iTunes, a change that would give consumers more ways to access and manage their iTunes purchases—and wouldn’t require them to download Apple’s software or their purchases. That new business model extends Apple’s grip on the music business, giving it the ability to sell music through search engines and other Web sites and broaden its reach beyond people who come to its virtual store.”

“As part of the move, Lala executives have been given key positions helping shape music strategy for the iTunes Store, and some iTunes executives would report to them. ‘It’s our understanding that the Lala guys are going to be in very significant roles,’ says one person who has been briefed on Apple’s plans,” Smith and Kane report. “Some people familiar with Apple’s thinking cautioned the changes are in the early planning stages and could still be altered. But if the plans do go forward, these people said, Apple could start implementing them as soon as next year.”

Smith and Kane report, “In addition to selling music, Lala’s software also scans a user’s existing music library and matches its contents with songs on its own servers, then gives the user access to that music via a Web browser…. It is also possible that Apple would use Lala’s streaming technology as the basis for a subscription service, for which users would pay a flat rate in exchange for unlimited access to music.”

Full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “James W.” for the heads up.]

26 Comments

  1. I don’t think so. Apple isn’t going to implement anything that doesn’t require Apple hardware, and accessing from any browser won’t do that.

    For sure Lala has some capability that can extend iTunes capability, but not in any way that these guys are talking about, or even thinking.

  2. The problem also is that iPods used on Macs can’t be loaded with stuff from Windows machines and vice versa. Apple would have to adopt a neutral storage architecture to make this work. Not going to happen.

  3. Who says you have to use a browser? The author says “connected to the internet”. That means your iPhone, iPod touch, and macbook via iTunes. And iTunes is on Windows too, so add in all Windows laptops.

  4. “Who says you have to use a browser? The author says “connected to the internet”.’

    You’re kidding, right? If you’re connected to the internet, you got there with a browser. No browser, no connection.

  5. @Gregg Thurman

    Maybe Apple’s at a tipping point where the sale of content is lucrative enough that they can relax about hardware sales.

    Besides, who knows what new gadget Apple will release in 2010, that will complement cloud services so well, that everyone will want one.

  6. Apple isn’t going to implement anything that doesn’t require Apple hardware… —Gregg Thurman

    Actually, they already have. iTunes for Windows has been available for quite some time, and media downloaded from the iTunes Store can be played on any media player.

  7. “Apple is considering adopting that same model for songs sold on iTunes…”
    There’s no evidence to support this statement.
    As has been stated previously, Apple buys tech companies all the time. The why’s and the wherefores are subject to nothing but journalistic speculation.

  8. If tablet is real (built-in 3G connectivity), then this allows all previously ownediTunes material to be available on tablet without compromising hard drive space or worrying about extending “permissions” on older copies of music (with DRM).

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