updated 11:55 am EST, Tue January 19, 2010
Lala deal for online access not subs
Apple's buyout of Lala revolves around an online locker for a user's music, MP3tunes head Michael Robertson says. A "variety" of internal sources tell him that iTunes will roll the online access into a software update that will make a note of the user's music and video collections, updating in the background to mirror this online. Once done, listeners will have access to their collections either through a web browser or through an Apple handheld like the iPhone, iPod or rumored tablet.
Since customers will already own the music, Apple won't need to renegotiate with labels to get sharing rights. Lala had to negotiate for its streaming but only for customers that weren't using their existing collections.
While it's not certain whether customers will actually upload their collections to iTunes -- many own collections in the tens of gigabytes -- the strategy would let Apple skirt around the limitations of existing handheld and notebook storage by giving customers the option of streaming any content that isn't stored locally. A handful of online media providers like Amazon VOD and VUDU already have a similar locker concept that grants permission to any purchased or actively rented video, but these don't include content that wasn't explicitly paid for and equally omit music.
Microsoft does offer Internet playback but skirts around ownership issues by requiring a $15 monthly Zune Pass that provides unlimited access to the entire Zune Marketplace music catalog; it doesn't address videos and doesn't presently support streaming to the Zune HD. A future Zune update should at least allow Internet music to reach the Zune HD through a Smart DJ automatic playlist feature.