Music service Lala heralds MP3-killing iPhone app

Oct 27, 2009 By RYAN NAKASHIMA , AP Business Writer

(AP) -- Online music retailer Lala is preparing to launch an iPhone application that its co-founder says paves the way for the end of downloading songs in the MP3 format.

The app allows users to buy the right to stream songs from a digital locker forever for just 10 cents each. The song quality is lower than what Inc.'s iTunes offers, but "intelligent caching" lets the tracks load and play in seconds, with playback possible even outside of cell phone coverage.

An existing iTunes library can be synchronized with one's Lala account, meaning a person doesn't have to repurchase songs to listen to them within the app.

In a demonstration for The Associated Press, songs began playing in about two seconds, compared to the more than two minutes it took to download an iTunes song over the AT&T 3G cell phone network. Consumers are allowed one full-length free preview of each song.

"There's no downloading, no links to click on, it's just there," said Lala co-founder Bill Nguyen, who described the concept as the start of "the end of the MP3."

The advantage of having songs in MP3 files is that they can be downloaded and played on a variety of devices and computers. Meanwhile, streaming services pump music directly to a computer or mobile device, but not in a form that the user can store and play any time, even while offline.

Lala's app aims to get around that downside of streaming while taking advantage of the device's power as a music player (it has an iPod inside it, after all) and undercutting the prices charged on iTunes, where songs generally cost 69 cents to $1.29.

Once users pay 10 cents to have a song streamed from Lala, they can hear the track essentially any time. The songs that a user listens to most often in the app or designates as favorites are automatically loaded in the phone's memory, which is the step that allows them to be heard any time, even out of cell phone range.

The songs are streamed at as few as 32 kilobits per second, depending on cell phone reception - which is about the same as some smaller radio stations stream online but far lower quality than the 256 kilobits per second common to iTunes. It can lead to a flatter, fuzzier sound. Nguyen said sound quality could improve as networks become stronger.

Lala will also sell higher-quality versions of the same songs as MP3s for 89 cents each. But that requires hooking the user's phone to an Internet-connected computer.

The app, which itself is free, is set to debut on Apple Inc.'s app store next month pending approval. Apple had no immediate comment Tuesday.

Lala, a private company based in Palo Alto, Calif., was launched in 2006 with $35 million in venture capital from Bain Capital LLC, Ignition Partners and Warner Music Group Corp.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rhapsody streaming app approved for iPhones

Sep 10, 2009

(AP) -- RealNetworks Inc.'s subscription music service Rhapsody has been approved for use on iPhones and iPod Touches, the first time Apple Inc. has allowed an on-demand music streaming program on its devices ...

Changes to Apple's iTunes prices take effect

Apr 07, 2009

(AP) -- The era of one-price-fits-all-songs on iTunes came to an end Tuesday as Apple Inc., the Internet's dominant digital music retailer, began selling some of its most-downloaded songs for $1.29 apiece.

Like Apple, Amazon, Wal-Mart change music prices

Apr 08, 2009

(AP) -- Apple's iTunes Store isn't the only one that has adjusted prices for its digital song downloads recently: Changes are showing up at Amazon's and Wal-Mart's online music stores, too.

Napster cuts music plan to $5 a month

May 19, 2009

(AP) -- Napster.com on Monday cut the price of its online music streaming service to $5 a month from $12.95, and threw in five song downloads for customers in a move to better compete with rival iTunes.

Recommended for you

US warns shops to watch for customer data hacking

9 hours ago

The US Department of Homeland Security on Friday warned businesses to watch for hackers targeting customer data with malicious computer code like that used against retail giant Target.

Fitbit to Schumer: We don't sell personal data

Aug 22, 2014

The maker of a popular line of wearable fitness-tracking devices says it has never sold personal data to advertisers, contrary to concerns raised by U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer.

Should you be worried about paid editors on Wikipedia?

Aug 22, 2014

Whether you trust it or ignore it, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites in the world and accessed by millions of people every day. So would you trust it any more (or even less) if you knew people ...

How much do we really know about privacy on Facebook?

Aug 22, 2014

The recent furore about the Facebook Messenger app has unearthed an interesting question: how far are we willing to allow our privacy to be pushed for our social connections? In the case of the Facebook ...

Philippines makes arrests in online extortion ring

Aug 22, 2014

Philippine police have arrested eight suspected members of an online syndicate accused of blackmailing more than 1,000 Hong Kong and Singapore residents after luring them into exposing themselves in front of webcam, an official ...

Google to help boost Greece's tourism industry

Aug 21, 2014

Internet giant Google will offer management courses to 3,000 tourism businesses on the island of Crete as part of an initiative to promote the sector in Greece, industry union Sete said on Thursday.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RayCherry
4 / 5 (1) Oct 27, 2009
Connected to iStore account, with attached Credit Card only payment system. Apple needs to become more paypal like in money transfer terms. Good start to goods sold through iPhone Apps. Congratulations Lala.