There's an interesting article at The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) today (subscription required) suggesting that Apple's recent acquisition of LaLa could mean a web-streaming model for a future version of iTunes. The speculation began last week, and today more information has emerged.
Quoting a source "...who has been briefed on Apple's plans," the WSJ reports that LaLa executives have been given key roles at Apple, and that members of the existing iTunes team will report to them. The article also reiterates the $85 million price tag, which TechCrunch recently disputed.
While a streaming model makes sense for both Apple and consumers -- Apple could sell music through search engines, etc. while customers could eliminate space-hogging libraries from their computers -- such a move would be a radical departure for Apple, which has insisted that customers want to "own" a physical copy of their music.
Lala's service scanned your hard drive for songs you own to stream at will (think a web-based version of Apple's Home Sharing). Songs you don't own could be streamed for $0.10 each with a download "upgrade" available. All of this would require huge amounts of storage and bandwidth from Apple. Perhaps that's what the new North Carolina server facility is for.
As for Apple, mum's the word. "Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time and we generally do not comment on our purpose or plans," said Apple spokesman Steve Dowling.
[Via Mac Rumors]