The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple is planning on moving iTunes to the Web.
Apple Inc., the company that restructured the music industry around its iTunes service, is exploring an overhaul of the way it sells and stores music that is aimed at extending its influence to the Web, according to people briefed on the strategy.The key vehicle for the move is Apple’s newly acquired music-streaming service La La Media Inc. for which Apple paid $85 [Wow! TechCrunch was WAY off] million, according to people familiar with the matter. Where Apple’s iTunes requires users to download music onto a specific computer, Lala.com lets users buy and listen to music through a Web browser, meaning its customers can access purchases from anywhere, as long as they are connected to the Internet.
Apple could start instituting the changes as early as next year, according to their sources. Also, as part of the move, Apple uncharacteristically gave Lala execs key positions at Apple that will help to shape their music strategy.
Lala already had an iPhone app ready (video below) but it isn’t clear if Apple intends to use it or forge ahead with their own.
The WSJ further notes:
Even before the acquisition closed Friday, Lala Chairman Bill Nguyen and Eddy Cue, Apple’s vice president for Internet services, began making joint calls to various business partners, including the major record-label groups, discussing possibilities for the music service’s future.
Interestingly, the new service will redefine what it means to “own” a song and will bring with it issues relating to instances when ownership of songs change hands. Amazon dealt with such an issue by deleting George Orwell books off its customers’ machines, a move that wasn’t well received. Apple will also have to consider users’ current libraries, and if they can or can’t prove that they own their MP3s when providing their songs on the Web.