Four months after buying Lala Media's popular online music service for a reported $80 million, Apple is pulling the plug on the 5-year-old site.
Lala notified its users in an e-mail Friday morning of the shutdown. Apple Inc. spokesman Jason Roth confirmed the plans, but he declined to say whether the Cupertino, Calif., company would resurrect the service under Apple's iTunes brand.
Lala lets users listen to any song in its catalog in its entirety once for free. After that, listeners can sample the song again for 30 seconds or buy a digital download of the song for 89 cents. What separated Lala from other music services, however, was its concept of a "Web song." Listeners could play a song an unlimited number of times for 10 cents, as long as they were connected to the site.
With iTunes, downloaded songs are stored on a user's computer and can be copied to other computers and devices. Web song files sit on Lala's computers and can be played only while the listener is connected to the Lala site. This is sometimes called "cloud" access.