Consumer technology giant Apple (AAPL) has taken a big step into the Internet "cloud" by purchasing streaming music company Lala, a deal that some industry experts value at under $35 million. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple, which already commands a big share of the music industry with its iTunes music service, "could either find a way to adapt Lala's Web song offerings or it could incorporate the startup's technology in a subscription service of some kind." Lala currently allows its customers to rent songs at $0.10 each to be streamed to their handsets.
Apple's iTunes allows customers to buy songs and download them to their computers or iPods. Once the iTunes user has the songs, and in some cases movies, he owns them forever. The model has done well, but it's incomplete. Many people want to stream music any place and any time to any connected device. That allows digital consumers to rent music, which is then sent to them over the Internet "cloud" where it is stored on remote servers.