With the pending acquisition of Lala by Apple speculation has begun on how Apple will integrate Lala into iTunes with many suggesting that this acquisition will enable iTunes to begin offering their own streaming services like last.fm or Pandora.
While these capabilities are almost certain to now find their way into iTunes, these predictions miss that something much larger is on the horizon. Apple didn't acquire Lala just for it's streaming capabilities, instead I believe that the pending acquisition of Lala by Apple signifies the beginning of an entirely new online iTunes platform and cloud computing media strategy for Apple.
While Apple has made huge investments into cloud computing infrastructure and services already with it's MobileMe and web based iWork services the high profile iTunes ecosystem has remained strangely absent from any public online strategy. With the Lala acquisition Apple is putting the online strategy for iTunes on the fast track for a big announcement sometime in 2010.
The details will likely start to emerge by Q2 but I believe that a iTunes in the cloud solution will offer the following:
- Merge your local music libraries with online libraries making your music always available to stream to you no matter where you are
- Create a social network for sharing with friends your likes, dislikes and your current playlist driving new music discovery and therefore sales
- Provide a completely online iTunes experience that will eventually replace the need for an iTunes desktop application
- Provide streaming music subscription services
These are just a few predictions, I suspect there will be more to come as details start to become known. A big unknown to me and something I will be keeping a close eye on is how video content and the Apple TV will fit into a future Apple online and in the cloud media future but one thing is for sure: the future of iTunes is all in the cloud.