LaLa is closing May 31, 2010. Kaput. R.I.P. — In short, Apple bought LaLa, and is now shutting it down. On this Pac Man anniversary, I’m picturing Apple’s monster icon gobbling up LaLa (cue lo-fi game music). The question is, what really went down?
Have you ever Googled a song you like, and seen it appear within a player called LaLa? These cute little widgets would pop up and play your song of choice with the album art displayed. You also had the option of blogging this widget with embed code, which made these widgets spread around the internet like wildfire. Respected music sites like Pitchfork embedded these widgets on their site often. About 1 year ago, Apple bought LaLa for 80 million dollars. Why close shop?
Here’s the secret sauce behind LaLa’s power. They have a “cloud pricing” model for downloads, which is sometimes cheaper than buying an iTunes song. Keep in mind, since downloading music to your cell takes few minutes, users can run to sites like LaLa that use “cloud computing” which is the modern version of storage space — that means housing your songs in a remote storage system.
For example, if you really want to hear music on your mobile, you’ll probably start going to sites with “cloud computing” rather than wait until you get home, download the song on your desktop, and connect your iPod or iPhone with a cord to get that song/album. I’m talking about a new version of instant gratification that could wipe out the old fashioned download model… thus making sites like LaLa a direct competition to iTunes.
But closing down LaLa? I’m sort of in shock. It sounds like some gangster move that Bill Gates would pull… but not our hero Steven Jobs?
Either way, the ethics is kinda wonky. Technically, there are Federal Anti-Trust laws that forbid wiping out competition. I mean, maybe it would be ok if Apple had announced a full circle solution that would satisfy the current users. But nothing of the sort. It’s just a mobbed up shut down.
The crappy part about the whole thing is the fact LaLa users have library’s full of 6 million downloads in their accounts. That doesn’t include all the years of embeddable widgets on people’s personal blogs or online music sites. What does this all mean? I guess websites like Flicker could shut down any second due to messy technology politics, so this is just a “wake-up” call that you can’t get attached to websites anymore. It’s a battle over users — and right now, it’s a battle over users on mobile devices.
There are also rumors spreading around that Apple is about to do another one of their BIG announcements soon. The facts aren’t clear but it’s possible Apple will be presenting an internet version of iTunes that is a “game-changer” in terms of not needing the traditional downloads anymore.
So is Apple wiping out the competition? Or did they purchase and close the site to integrate some of their technology into iTunes? One thing is evident. Apple is no longer the little innocent jogger running into the Orwellian room. It’s possible Steven Jobs is that big guy on screen now… lording over new hipster drones who will purchase whatever he gives them.
He’s not a bad guy. God knows I’ve worshiped at the altar of Apple since the first model. I was probably one of the only 5 losers who bought his 1988 line of computers called NeXT (that’s not a typo) when he first left Apple. Then I was head cheerleader when Jobs launched iTunes while all the old fat music execs were getting stupid and sleeping on the notion of change. The man is a visionary… but he’s also in danger of turning into the Goliath he was originally confronting. His pitch was all about “the people”. So let’s see if he continues looking out for us people as the story unfolds.
I’m not dissing Steven Jobs. I worship the guy. I’m just saying my “guards are up” now. I ain’t drinkin no Kool Aid.