updated 09:35 pm EST, Wed January 20, 2010
Lala help to have quick turnaround
The rumored iTunes library streaming feature that would come as a result of the Lala buyout is likely to be a free extra, a handful of sources at music labels said Wednesday night. They reiterate that Apple has proposed offering online storage for users' collections but add that it would simply be a bonus feature for iTunes customers to help drive iTunes sales. Regular per-track purchases wouldn't be touched.
The service almost certainly wouldn't be part of Apple's imminent January 27th event but could be ready as soon as the spring, according to the CNET connections. While integrating the music library services and overall know-how of Lala is likely to be a factor, the label insiders also caution that Apple may have to negotiate additional license deals to get permission for uploads and streaming. Lala's original license deals aren't transferrable.
Adding the feature would be a way for Apple to 'catch up' with Internet-based services, whether similarity-based Internet radio like Last.fm or subscription services like Rhapsody or the Zune Pass. It would also help drive sales of iPhones, tablets and smaller notebooks by promising that customers could still have access to their iTunes music without needing a large amount of free storage for local copies.