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On Monday evening, Apple shut down music service Lala, which it bought in December of 2009. The shutdown had been announced a month ago, but Apple’s plans seem hazier now than they did then. Rumors of a cloud-based iTunes music service powered by Lala’s technology have trailed off rather than building steam.
Media blogger Peter Kafka at AllThingsD wrote this morning that the major labels tolerate a few streaming services such as Grooveshark and HypeMachine, but there’s no back-channel talk about plans for a large-scale streaming service in the style of European service Spotify, which is not yet available on American devices.
It’s possible that Apple shut down Lala not as a precursor to a new version, but simply to appease the record labels whose wares it sells in the iTunes store, the world’s busiest music retail outlet.
It’s also possible that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will unveil a new music thing at his June 7 keynote address to Apple developers. But unlike the I-can’t-talk-about-it tension that built in tech industry circles in the weeks before Apple’s iPhone and iPad launches, there’s no nervous giggling among music industry gossips.
The most conspicuous change for most Internet users today is that music searches on Google return results from iLike rather than Lala. Again, Google has avoided public commentary on the switch. For now, it seems Apple’s next big step in online music — if there is one — won’t be arriving soon.