Apple has bought US-based online music store Lala for an undisclosed sum, fueling rumours the company could be adding subscription-based music services via iTunes. The New York Times confirmed the purchase last Friday, citing a person with knowledge of the deal. Lala lets users listen to a catalog of around 8 million songs for free through the Web. According to Lala’s site, users can pay 10 cents for unlimited plays of a song; they can also download an MP3 version for 89 cents.
The MP3s come without digital-rights management restrictions, making them compatible with iTunes and Windows Media Player.
Its iTunes is the leading music service in the United States with more than 70 per cent of digital music sales and it is the leading music retailer too. But newer music streaming services from the likes of News Corp’s MySpace Music and Spotify have begun to win over music fans in the past year.
A source familiar with the deal said the iPod, iPhone and Mac maker is seeking new ways to expand iTunes to move it beyond being a predominantly download service for songs.
The iTunes Store has always offered music on an a la carte basis, with users paying to download specific tracks and albums. If Lala is now part of the Apple fold, it could be a sign that the company wants to expand beyond its pay-per-download approach to music.