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: LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

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

LinkedIn membership hits 300 million

Apr 18, 2014

The career-focused social network LinkedIn announced Friday it has 300 million members, with more than half the total outside the United States.

Researchers uncover likely creator of Bitcoin

Apr 18, 2014

The primary author of the celebrated Bitcoin paper, and therefore probable creator of Bitcoin, is most likely Nick Szabo, a blogger and former George Washington University law professor, according to students ...

White House updating online privacy policy

Apr 18, 2014

A new Obama administration privacy policy out Friday explains how the government will gather the user data of online visitors to WhiteHouse.gov, mobile apps and social media sites. It also clarifies that ...

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.

More news stories

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.

Health care site flagged in Heartbleed review

People with accounts on the enrollment website for President Barack Obama's signature health care law are being told to change their passwords following an administration-wide review of the government's vulnerability to the ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

(Phys.org) —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...