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How Apple Killed an iTunes Competitor 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the boom-iHeadshot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Ed Bott recounts the story of Lala.com, an innovative online music service that reached the top of Google search rankings for consumers seeking music. Their prices were frequently better than the prices on iTunes, and they partnered with Google for the search giant's Music Beta. Lala's founder, Bill Nguyen, decided the time was ripe to sell, entertaining offers from both Google and Nokia. Unfortunately, Nokia's offer was poor, and Google tried to lowball Nguyen. Apple, however, was not so foolish. Correctly identifying a threat to its growing music empire, Steve Jobs offered $80 million for the company, and Nguyen accepted. 'The ultimate irony in this story is that quite a few notable members of the Lala-to-Apple team followed Bill through the door and onward to his next venture. They left millions in options at a the $196.48 exercise price they had from the 2009 sale/retention bonuses. Some of those same engineers returned to Apple in the highly covered [Color Labs acquisition] rumor that 20+ engineers went to Apple for $7M. Apple obtained the same employees for pennies on the dollar. This time with even more experience and startup life under their belt. Paying twice was genius.'"
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How Apple Killed an iTunes Competitor

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 19, 2013 @09:43PM (#42636525)

    Oh, come on, please - that's intellectual dishonesty.

    Yes, apple paid for it, but they certainly killed lala, and it was certainly part of the contract. They didn't want Google to get that power, and they didn't want an iTunes competitor. Trying to wrap this in a "free market" huggy-blanket is not just naive, it's dishonest.

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @09:51PM (#42636551)

    Indeed. It sounds to me like the lesson to be learned here is that you don't throw out lowball offers when you have an opportunity to disrupt the market. Google made a miscalculation. Spend generously when you need to, in order to reap greater value down the line.

    Now, whether that is ultimately important in light of Android's undisputed success and Apple's seeming disinterest in continuing to innovate with iOS, is another story. iOS has basically stagnated, and that's coming from someone who has stayed with Apple since the original iPhone. I've never purchased an Android device and even I can tell that it is a more flexible and capable platform.

  • by theedgeofoblivious (2474916) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @10:20PM (#42636649)

    I remember using Lala, mostly at work. At the time it was much nicer to use than iTunes and Pandora.

    I remember the day when I found out that Apple was shutting down Lala, and I was very disappointed, because Apple is very insistent that people only use technology in the way that Apple wants them to. I do generally like Apple's interface design, but Apple is very insistent that its way is the best, and they have been insistent even in the cases that they've been wrong.

    Lala had then what Amazon, Google, and Apple have only recently added, which is the ability to basically mirror your library from their website, and when Apple bought the service it was a big loss. I think Google or Amazon would have actually built on the service, but Apple just killed it, and that sucked.

  • by idobi (820896) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @01:09AM (#42637279) Homepage
    This isn't even a fair comparison. For every track sold on iTunes, the "label" (by label, it could apply to an actual label, or the artist themselves if they self published) gets $.70. For every track played on spotify, the "label" gets $.0017. Buying through iTunes is vastly more beneficial to content producers.
  • by alvinrod (889928) on Sunday January 20, 2013 @02:11AM (#42637471)
    Regardless if which you buy, the actual artist gets next to nothing. The indie labels probably have a better deal, but there are still a lot of artists that aren't on iTunes. Maybe things have changed more recently, but there was a time where you couldn't find anything that wasn't from a major label through them and it's been pretty well established how badly they screw over the artists. They might not be getting paid either way given the usual studio accounting practices and all of that 'expensive studio time' and other costs that went into making the album.

    So the point still stands. For a lot of bands or artists, if you actually want them to see any money you're far better off going to a show or buying some merchandise. Otherwise it's not exactly easy to tell if someone is signed to a label that isn't completely shafting them.
  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968&gmail,com> on Sunday January 20, 2013 @04:30PM (#42641321) Journal

    It doesn't change the fact that Apple and MSFT have ALWAYS seemed to have a little game called "Who can fuck the consumer worst" going between each other. Honestly I don't know WTH is going on with Apple not being investigated for iTunes since they pretty much fucking own the PMP market (last numbers I saw had it at over 90%) and almost no business will ever reach 100%. This is why the official definition includes having undue influence and control over a market which seeing how many companies roll over and play dead if faced with Apple such as Adobe bailing on Flash when Steve said no Flash, or how Opera for the first time in their history is having to use webkit and put out a lame ass Opera "skin" because they can't get their actual product on a locked down Apple controlled device, just blows my fucking mind.

    But frankly this whole "RDF" idea has always just blown my fucking mind, you take 3 companies, Apple, Google, and MSFT, have them all do the exact same anti-competitive behavior and one or more of them will be lauded while the others condemned, for the same fucking shit! Apple is just as big of a monopolistic douchebag as MSFT, Google has shown "do no evil" is just "think different" in a geek friendly wrapper, yet nobody will fucking acknowledge or do a damned thing about it as long as the "right" company is doing the fucking. MSFT locks their tablet? Rightly pointed out as shitty, Apple been doing the same for years? Well that's just protecting the users! Google makes their own flavor of UEFI on "their" ChromeBooks (since you don't really control it I'd call it a rental more than a purchase) that is so fucking nasty that you can't even boot a bog standard Linux X86 distro on X86 hardware? Oh that's perfectly okay while just the thought that MSFT uses the same trick while giving you the incredibly easy option to disable? Well Whargarrbl its the end of the planet.

    Don't get me wrong I think ALL of these anti-competitive lock in horseshit needs to go DIAF, I'm just sick and fucking tired of it being perfectly okay for the corp to kick you in the nuts as long as the corp is wearing the right logo on their shirt. A kick in the nuts is a kick in the nuts is a kick in the nuts, I don't give a rat's ass what logo shirt they are wearing.

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