Friday, April 30, 2010

The Circle of Life -- Apple to Kill Off Music Site Lala -- Only to Be Reborn as iTunes in the Cloud?

Lala -- the online music service acquired by Apple about 6 months ago -- just announced that it will be shuttering its service as of May 31st (and, as of today, it is no longer accepting new users). But, is this the end, or simply the beginning of something greater? Is Lala simply being killed off to be born again in the body of Apple's long-rumored iTunes in the Cloud subscription service?

As my Magic 8-Ball says, "Signs Point to Yes."

First, Apple doesn't acquire companies that much. And, it certainly doesn't buy companies only to shut them down 6 months later (it isn't Yahoo! after all!). Second, as popular as iTunes is, it is in need of a sexy new announcement. Third, despite Apple's and Steve Jobs' continuous protestations for years that consumers only want to download music and own it, Lala's service redefined ownership in a very un-Steve Jobs-like manner. Rather than iTunes' $.99 per download model, Lala customers could "buy" tracks for $.10 and can stream them from the Cloud -- but they couldn't download them. And, fourth, iTunes could greatly expand its footprint by enabling its customers to access their music anywhere via their browsers and simply logging in (which is what all music subscription services -- like Rhapsody, Pandora, Slacker -- have long enabled).

Here's another clue -- a big one. Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference is scheduled for June 7 ... a few days after Lala is completely shuttered. I am now of the belief (I wasn't before) that there are no such things as mere coincidences. Especially in connection with Developers Conferences. Companies like to make grand announcements at these events. And, an iTunes in the Cloud service would be one fine sexy announcement.

So, expect it.

Like the great Phoenix, Apple's iTunes in the Cloud service -- in one form or another (check out the possibilities by linking to my former post on the subject here) -- will rise from Lala's ashes in its continued quest to rule the online music universe.

Time to watch "The Lion King Again" ... and listen to Elton John's songs ...