I had it confirmed through my sources last night and now The New York Times is reporting that Apple is buying Lala.com. This could be great news for music lovers.
Lala is a four-year-old company based in Palo Alto that lets users upload their music collections into the cloud and access them from anywhere on any Internet connected device. The first time I tried it, I loved it. Lala was able to connect with my iTunes library and upload my entire collection to the cloud. That meant I could hear it from any Internet-connected device that had access to Lala. For 10 cents Lala also lets users acquire a song that they can stream from any device with Lala and for between 79 and 89 cents a piece fans can download a song and own it on their hard drives.
Lala has been popular but not profitable. One of the investors in the company is Warner Music, which has lost about $9 million on its $20-million investment. However, many analysts believe the problem is that consumers were afraid of entrusting their music to a service that might go out of business. This won't be a problem if Apple owns it.
But, what will Apple do with Lala? Apple is purchasing some great software for streaming music from the web. This might mean a future where you could stream music on your iPhone or any other connected device and not actually have to download it onto a hard drive with limited space.
The Apple acquisition could also change Lala and from the perspective of music fans it might not be for the better. Apple could try and limit the service in some way so that you can't just upload all your CD's to the cloud and access them from anywhere.
I spoke with someone yesterday at Apple who implied that the company didn't actually think that owning music was that important to consumers. It made me worry that Apple will transform Lala into a streaming service with a monthly fee like Rhapsody or Napster. But, I'm hopeful that Apple will see that a lot of consumers want to have their music on their own hard drives and own it themselves, not rent it.