With 24-some hours remaining before introducing the newest world-transforming, life saving, cancer-curing gizmo, the iWhatever, Apple's recent acquisition of Lala.com looms ever more intriguing.
The Internets are rife with speculation about what that merger means. Will iTunes be moving to the cloud? Will Apple start offering streaming music for a fraction of the cost of downloads? Will there be an "all your ears can eat" subscription service? Will Michael Robertson's head explode? (Michael came up with a cloud-based music delivery scenario ten years before people started talking about "cloud computing" — and the music industry promptly clubbed him into oblivion. And they're still clubbing him. Another case of "the second mouse gets the cheese" ?)
Whatever the plans for Lala, you can bet it figures tightly into Apple's plans for its new gizmo, which conceivably offers the potential to completely alter how people use digital technologies. That it will a) not have a hard drive and b) have all kinds of wireless capabilities pretty well dictates that whatever content it does deliver will not likely be stored on the device itself.
Now we're starting to see all kinds of speculation about the "content" deals that Apple has been quietly making as it gets ready for tomorrow's big announcement:
According to various rumors, Apple has been in contact with a variety of media outlets ranging from magazine publishers like Condé Nast to newspaper vendors like the New York Times to book publishers like McGraw-Hill Education to bring a variety of publications to the tablet. And this I think represents one of the key pillars to Apple's successful business strategy–marrying devices with content.
What's more, Apple appears poised to dramatically expand the capabilities of its already capable iTunes platform. Via its acquisition of Lala.com, Apple will be able to sell music, and perhaps other content, through a streaming scenario–and may be able to charge less for the stream than for the straight download. The company also is rumored to be planned a Web-based version of iTunes, which would make the platform more user friendly and nimble than its current 100-or-so megabytes. Couple these advances with the addition of newspapers, magazines and books to iTunes and the platform becomes a one-stop content shop for iPhones, iTablets and the rest.
As I already mentioned on that other blog post yesterday, my iPhone has already become my content delivery device of choice. It has pretty much displaced my Kindle because it not only delivers more stuff, but I can do more with that stuff from the iPhone than the Kindle. The iWhatever promises to put all that iPhone capability into a more Kindle-size package. I can hardly f'ing wait.
It's the combination of content and technology that makes the iPhone more valuable to me than the Kindle. So I think you can pretty well bet that music is going to be a big part of the content that iWhatever delivers.
Cloud storage? Streaming delivery? Lower prices? Subscription service? My bet is on all of the above. And exploding heads to boot.