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Lights out at Lala - Apple shutters music service

Is iTunes' future cloudy?

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Apple has shut down Lala, the cloudy online music service it acquired less than five months ago, reanimating the long-running rumor that an iTunes subscription service is right around the corner.

Lala's demise is no surprise. As soon as Lala began listing its address as 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, it was only a matter of time until its smarts and technology would be absorbed into the Jobsian borg, and its subscription-based service would bite the digital dust.

Lala's home page, announcing the shutdown

Tha-tha-tha-that's all, folks!

The site will go dark on May 31, but Lala subscribers - or "members," in Lalaspeak - won't be S.O.L. Apple will provide iTunes credit for money they've spent on the site - but, seeing as how Lala charged 10¢ a tune and iTunes songs run 69¢ (exceptionally rare), 99¢, or $1.29, there's hardly a one-to one correspondence.

For members with online-wallet balances or unredeemed gift cards, Apple is more generous, providing either full iTunes credit or simply a refund check.

Presumably, Apple and the erstwhile Lalalians are working behind the scenes to upgrade the iTunes Store - but don't automatically assume that the brains behind Lala will remain at 1 Infinite Loop. Remember, for example, that after Apple acquired chipmaker PA Semi back in 2008, its guiding lights bailed to create their own start-up - which Google bought just last week.

As expected, no one in Cupertino is talking about whether Apple is planning a subscription-based service in which your tunes, as did Lala's, will reside in the cloud. As comforting as it may be to have your own physical tune files on your own physical hard drive, a subscription service does have the unarguable advantage of allowing you to access all your tunes from all your devices - mobile, desktop, or otherwise (think car audio).

And remember that over in Catawba County, North Carolina, Apple's cloudy $1bn data center is inching closer to completion every day. ®

Bootnote

Lala began as a CD-swapping service back in 2006. Remember CDs? Round, shiny things that scratched easily?

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