10 Reasons Why Apple's Lala Buy Could Bring Online Success

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2009-12-07 Print this article Print

NEWS ANALYSIS: With the acquisition of Lala, Apple is moving into the online space that's dominated by Google, Microsoft, and others. As concerning as that might be for some, there's a great opportunity for Apple to not only make a mark online, but to be successful, as well.

Apple's successes in the hardware and software space is well known and often discussed. But in an acquisition of music-streaming service Lala, the company has done something that many folks thought it wouldn't: it has silently moved into the online space. Admittedly, it's a small first step. Lala doesn't have the following that Pandora or Rhapsody do. The site is probably known to very few people outside main tech circles. It just doesn't have the "household name" that some of its competitors do.

But that's not the real story today. The real story of Apple's acquisition of Lala, which the company confirmed on Dec. 4, starts with Apple. The hardware company that has stayed true to its roots is now branching out of its comfort zone to engage other, prominent companies on the Web. Of course, Lala might become an important component in Apple's hardware strategy. But it's now an important component in its Web strategy. That's why we need to evaluate Apple as an online company. Can it attract more users? Can it be successful?

I believe that it can. And here's why:

1. Apple understands the consumer

If nothing else, Apple fully understands the needs and desires of the consumer. It has proven that with the hardware it sells. It has shown that with the software it offers. To believe that it wouldn't do the same for any online endeavor is ludicrous. Reality is, Apple "gets" what people want. And that will help it with any strategy it pursues online.

2. Music is what Apple knows

Apple's Lala acquisition makes a lot of sense. The company's iPod proves that better than just about anything else the company offers. Apple has shown time and again that music is an integral part of its strategy. By making a streaming-music service another component in that, it would only seem that Apple can do great things online.

3. Mobile integration

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of pursuing an online strategy is the ability to integrate the streaming into the company's mobile devices. Apple could quite easily integrate Lala or any other online service into the iPhone or the many iPods it sells. It would give users the option of either listening to their own music, downloading apps, or listening to various songs that stream directly to their devices. With the Lala acquisition, Apple could up the mobile ante.

4. Mac OS X integration

An online strategy might also help Apple improve Mac OS X. Right now, there isn't a single operating system on the market that comes bundled with useful online services. Lala is just the first step of many that could vastly improve Mac OS X. Imagine a new Mac OS X with a Lala option right in the Finder. It might also have other online properties Apple acquires at some point in the future. It could be Apple's way of competing against Chrome OS.

5. Apple has a vision

With the Lala acquisition, Apple has proven that it has a real plan for its future online. Apple's acquisition of Lala seems awfully strategic in nature. The company could have picked up a bigger brand for a little more cash, but it picked Lala. It must have a clear vision of what it wants and where it wants to go with Lala. It should be fun to watch.

Don Reisinger is a freelance technology columnist. He started writing about technology for Ziff-Davis' Gearlog.com. Since then, he has written extremely popular columns for CNET.com, Computerworld, InformationWeek, and others. He has appeared numerous times on national television to share his expertise with viewers. You can follow his every move at http://twitter.com/donreisinger.

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