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Apple buys Lala music service. Could streaming iTunes be on the way?

Apple has reportedly just purchased Lala, a music service probably best known as a partner in Google's new music search results. Lala offers streaming access to its music library at a rate of 10 cents a track for unlimited replays. Does this mean a cheap streaming option will eventually come to iTunes?

Lala doesn't have a huge user base, so perhaps Apple is planning its own streaming music service to compete with the promising new generation of streaming services like Mog All Access and Spotify (which is anticipated to land in the US in 2010). Some sources are saying that Apple is very interested in Lala's payment system, which sells bulk song credits and thus requires fewer credit card transactions than Apple's current system.

Lala stores users' music in the cloud, so it wouldn't be a stretch for Apple to use this technology to provide users with streaming access to the songs in their iTunes libraries. Rebuying your library at 10 cents a song for streaming access wouldn't be horrifyingly expensive, and Apple would get to cash in again on songs it's already sold for 99 cents a pop. It's way too early to know Apple's actual plan for Lala, but it seems like a smart, forward-looking acquisition to me.

[via Wired]

Tags: apple, business, itunes, lala, music, purchase, streaming