Will Lala power Web-based iTunes?

Apple bought cloud-music service Lala with a plan: to integrate it into an upcoming Web-based version of iTunes, which stores your music purchases online rather than on your computer, according to several reports.

Apple bought Lala last week, and speculation is already flourishing on how the Cupertino company will integrate its new acquisition into the hugely popular iTunes Store. Apple is said to be developing a browser-based version of iTunes, which will host your music purchases on its servers.

By acquiring Lala, Apple also can sell music through search engines, following a previous deal between Google and Lala in October. Google has reportedly tried to buy Lala as well, in order to use the service to stream music to future users of its upcoming Chrome OS.

A Web-based iTunes would mean that you could access your music from any computer that runs a browser like Apple's own Safari, instead of having to have the physical file. Basically, all your media files from iTunes would be stored on Apple's servers rather than on your computer. Such a move would require massive computing power, and Apple has already prepared with a rumored $1 billion U.S.-based data center in North Carolina.

A Web-based version of iTunes would have its disadvantages as well, though. As with most Web apps, a browser-based iTunes probably won't be as feature-rich as its desktop counterpart, and would require a constant Internet connection to access your media.

At the beginning, I suspect the Web-based and desktop versions of iTunes would live alongside each other, offering a way to access your media remotely. The scheme sounds similar to the way Amazon stores in the could books purchased for its Kindle e-book reader and also a local version on the device, while you can access the cloud version from an iPhone or desktop app.

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