Why Apple shut down LaLa

In another disappointment for U.S. music fans, Apple announced last week that it would shutter online music service LaLa on May 31st— only months after purchasing the company for over $80 million in December 2009. Started in 2006, the company allows users to create and share music playlists, access music collections from any computer, purchase MP3s, or buy the right to stream songs indefinitely for ten cents. The site gained notable exposure in the music community when taste making blog Pitchfork Media began using LaLa widgets and playlists to accompany it’s music reviews. The announcement leaves room for speculation as to Apple’s motivation and its next move in the music space.

Many predict Apple will use LaLa’s “cloud” technology to launch a music subscription service within the iTunes platform– LaLa, unlike iTunes, stores music on servers which users can access in addition to direct dowloading. In a world of lost iPods and constantly updating technology, that convenience could add substantial value to an already established brand. The Wall Street Journal also reports that Apple will likely start an iTunes.com site this year empowering users to play music without the currently required iTunes software. This would open Apple’s music business to a larger audience and position the company to tap into a growing mobile market. Forrester Research projects that today’s 2.1 million music service subscribes will mushroom to over 5 million by 2014, due in part to an expansion of music streaming on smart phones. Continue reading “Why Apple shut down LaLa”

YouTube rentals: The new Netflix?

YouTube rentals: The new Netflix? (iStock and YouTube)If you were looking to get rich off that adorable video of your baby dancing to Rihanna’s “Rude Boy,” today might be your lucky day.  This week, YouTube quietly rolled out a YouTube Rentals beta program open to any user looking to monetize their content.  All you do is upload your video, choose a few settings, wait for YouTube staff approval, and then sit back and watch the money roll in.

Or not.  Conventional wisdom dictates that consumers aren’t likely to pay for something they’re used to getting for free.   In fact, they can get down right annoyed and angry about.  On the other hand, try telling that to “The Simpsons” and “Sex and The City” who made a killing at the theatrical box office on content people were used to getting pro bono.  Continue reading “YouTube rentals: The new Netflix?”

iTunes app store shakeout

iamrichThe biggest news about the iPhone 3G release this past July 11, as far as the broader mobile industry is concerned, was easily the launch of the iTunes App Store. The effect this is poised to have on third-party mobile application development—outside of the iPhone and iTunes ecosystem—could be tremendous.

Of course, downloading apps to the phone has been around for years; but the familiarity of the experience on the iPhone will spur handset makers, carriers, and developers to work together to create a more seamless experience on other handsets. Out of this, we’re also likely to see a couple of other marketplaces begin to challenge iTunes: probably standing a better chance than competitive music portals, which by and large have languished or stumbled over business models as iTunes has quietly become the biggest music retailer in the country. Continue reading “iTunes app store shakeout”