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Lala to give iPhones, Apple tablets an online locker?

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.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. JulesLt

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2005

    +4

    Syncing vs Streaming

    The most logical thing to me would be if my portable iTunes (iPod, MacBook) could show me my whole collection, and transparently manage cacheing things locally (i.e. fill up local memory with the most popular and most recent items, push out least played to make way for anything I'm now choosing to play).

    You can do that now, with smart playlists, but you still need to reconnect, and it requires some skill and thought to set up.

    What I don't want is a solution that is actually dependent on streaming - I've used 3G enough to know that it's better at peak bursts rather than consistent streams (I'll get 7.2Mbps for 10 seconds - then nothing at all for another 10).

    (And it strikes me that most of the people really excited about Cloud services and streaming are people who have a vested interest in server-side, rather than personal, computing)

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    -2

    Too many issues

    While it's not certain whether customers will actually upload their collections to iTunes -- many own collections in the tens of gigabytes

    First, from previous experience with such services, the RIAA is not going to allow apple to just say "Hey, bob has such and such song, so we'll let them stream our version from our servers" without wanting a piece of the action.

    Second, Apple's history of matching music to cover art has shown itself to be barely passable, so even if they did 'match theirs' with yours", how many songs will end up being completely wrong?

    Third, Apple only has a fraction of the music out there, so people would still be uploading their own recordings. And those would have to be kept separate from everyone else's copies.

    And I wonder if they'd end up restricting it to just iTMS purchased content (like how they restrict you on making ring tones, or using the media sharing capabilities in itunes).

  1. iphonerulez

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Nov 2008

    +1

    We're just speculating...

    Maybe it's just for WiFi, maybe the tablet will have 4G, maybe Robertson misunderstood what he heard. Let's wait for the update and bite it from there. I doubt that more than 2% of iTunes users in the world have 500 GB of music. Why gear it for the upper limit. I'm thinking 50 GB would serve most people's music libraries. I don't want to guess about the size of people's iTunes video libraries and I doubt if they're going to stream video, but we'll see.

    There are people that swear by cloud storage and it may be a long, hard climb to get everything working just right, but you have to start somewhere. A super-sized server farm is a good start, but work still has to be done with carrier bandwidth. Maybe the sound quality will be limited at the start. Too many ifs. You'll have to actually use it to find out whether it will work or not.

  1. facebook_Brandon

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Jan 2010

    +3

    Lala is already incredible

    I'm not sure that any of the previous commenters have actually used Lala. Understandable, as I had only just heard of the service before Apple's acquisition. The point I want to make is this: Lala has an incredible service RIGHT NOW. If Apple were able to simply plug their code into iTunes, it'd be the biggest improvement since the advent of iTMS.

    All of the issues raised by testudo have already been addressed and dealt with with Lala's service. In the case of the first concern, the *unlikely* scenario described is exactly how Lala works. It scans the music you have -- no matter the source -- and allows you to listen to all of it on their service. As to the second issue, I can agree with Apple's ineptitude, but the Lala Music Mover handles the matching process very well. If Apple were to incorporate this tech into iTunes, I have no doubt it'd be up to the task. The third concern has also been dealt with successfully by Lala, and they do it just as you describe. Music that's not part of their catalog can be searched and viewed, but not played by those who do not own it.

    As for JulesLt's concern about connectivity, I think I need do no more than point out the Pandora app. I've been able to stream music for years over a simple EDGE connection with few if any problems. Though I believe the caching idea is a very good one.

    The only part of this transition that bothers me is that Apple does not get the same content licensing that Lala has. The ability to listen to every song in their catalog once for free is amazing. Additionally, though it's apparently not a popular option, the 10ยข web songs are wonderful for me as I spend most of my weekdays at my work computer.

  1. resuna

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2005

    +1

    This is what MP3.COM was doing

    This sounds very much like the business model the original MP3.COM had, where they maintained a repository of songs and let you play and download the songs that you already owned. The labels and RIAA sued them because they didn't have the rights to the music, even though they required proof from their customers (by having a CD that could be scanned by their PC application) that they did.

    So I suspect that this will only apply to the music you bought from iTunes, not the rest of your library.

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