back to article Lights out at Lala - Apple shutters music service

Apple has shut down Lala, the cloudy online music service it acquired less than five months ago, reanimating the long-running rumor that an iTunes subscription service is right around the corner. Lala's demise is no surprise. As soon as Lala began listing its address as 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, it was only a matter of time …


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  1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

    I remember CDs

    round shiny things where the music had some fidelity all the way to 11, as opposed to the crappy sounding MP3s out there now.

    1. Lou Gosselin


      "round shiny things where the music had some fidelity all the way to 11, as opposed to the crappy sounding MP3s out there now."

      Actually the comparison between CDs and MP3s is unfair for two reasons:

      1. Similar bit rates are never used.

      CD = 16bit*44000 samples/sec = 704kbps

      MP3 typically between 100-200kbps

      2. Most MP3s are typically encoded from a CD source.

      The fact is they are both lossy formats with respect to the original waveform.

      The wave lost fidelity when encoded into "raw" digital format, and then lost more fidelity when encoded as mp3.

      1. Mark2410


        "CD = 16bit*44000 samples/sec = 704kbps"

        remember there is two channels, cds run at 1.4mbps

        1. Lou Gosselin


          "remember there is two channels, cds run at 1.4mbps"

          Yes, how embarrassing...

          1. Goat Jam

            Also . .

            I was under the impression that CD's are 11 bit. They certainly used to be.

      2. Pirate Dave Silver badge


        You're right. My ears always say it is unfair when I force them to listen an MP3 of Metallica's "One". They much prefer it from the CD. They used to like it on tape, but I got tired of the player eating the tape, so switched to CD. The drop from analog to CD isn't nearly as noticeable (or offensive) as the drop from CD to MP3.

  2. Daniel B.

    Just borging competition

    I doubt it had anything to do with adding services, and more with destroying competition. Kill iTunes competition! Destroy! Destroy!

    @Pirate Dave: I remember a similar argument being made against CDs when compared with vinyl. Most human beings won't notice the difference between a vinyl record, CD or MP3 recording, unless the MP3 is encoded ad a stupidly low bitrate. However, I do like to have CDs, as they have the full audio thingy and encode 'em to whatever bitrate I want to.

    1. Graham Dawson Silver badge

      Most humans?

      I'm by no means superhuman nor an audiophile (As far as I'm aware my hearing is not particularly acute and rather average), but I can definitely notice the difference between a decently encoded mp3 and "raw" digital audio. They sound flat and lifeless. Worse than a cassette tape in some cases, sans hiss. Mushy.

      Of course, the way cds are mixed these days, most people wouldn't be able to hear the difference anyway given that the music they're listening to has been clipped and peaked until it has almost no range at all. It's like listening to a wall of noise. They might as well be badly compressed mp3s the way they're squashed and munged until there's no life left. Go search for "the loudness war" on youtube, you'll see what I'm talking about.

      1. Lou Gosselin

        @Most humans?

        I mentioned this above, since mp3s are a better representation of the wave form. Bit for bit mp3s have far superior fidelity than CDs.

        Assume for a moment an audio waveform could be captured (or computed to) arbitrary accuracy. The mp3 encoding of that waveform will certainly be better than the "raw" encoding of that waveform when both are encoded at the same bandwidth.

        The problem lies in the fact that CDs are compared to very low bandwidth mp3s encoded from CD, frequently downloaded from the web with bit errors.

        Under this scenario, mp3s will always offer poor quality.

        1. Pirate Dave Silver badge

          I understand

          what you are saying about MP3 being a better theoretical format than redbook (or whatever it's called), but that doesn't help much right now, since most of the MP3s I've downloaded and listened to at "head-banging" levels tend to suck. I'm no audiophile and probably couldn't tell a tube amp from a transistor amp, I'm just stating what I've noticed in my own little universe of 80's metal at high volumes. The CDs always sound better to me.

  3. Someone Else Silver badge
    Jobs Horns

    Up to now...

    ... I didn't have a reason to hate Apple. That just changed....

    1. KenBW2

      Wait, what?

      You read The Reg, and you struggled to find reasons to hate Apple?

      I direct the kind sir to

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Jobs Horns


        OK, fair enough.

        None of the reasons directly affected me...until now. Not being a fanboi, nor a disgruntled user of His Steveness's wares, I had no direct personal reason to hate the Cult. In the abstract, yes, they are no better than any other high-tech monopoly wannabe run by a charismatic, egotistical, narcissistic head weenie.

  4. gimbal

    Apple, the Spoiled Brat of the Modern Tech Industry

    Hooray for nothing, Apple has shut down a great service, and I for one cannot welcome their fascist approach to "Apple-ness" ^W Jobsian-ness - even occurring, as it most certainly does, in the free-market economy.

    In my plain opinion, more Apple drones need to learn to think for themselves. Jobsian-ness and Fanboi Craze cannot sustain their company, forever -- things having so subjective a nature as those fads are naturally subject to change.

    As far as the matters that were addressed, directly, with the article: At least there's still eMusic and MP3 service - in that specific order of affordability - for those of us actually trying to keep a legally purchased MP3 collection.

    Lala used to fit in the middle, there, as far as what they charge(d) for most albums - a very close second ,in affordability - though ,in at least a few cases, Lala was more affordable than eMusic.

    In any case, Lala tends (tended) to have a wider selection than eMusic, and - finally to the greatest value - it works on any platform that can support a web-browser.

    Though, of course, their expert "Music Mover" application was not available for some more UNIX(TM)-like platforms, but individual song downloads worked, there, as well.

    Lala's service was well built, and very well executed - up to the time they sold out to Apple, it seems. This wholesale absorption/termination move by Apple is hugely disappointing.

    If I'd ever considered buying an Apple computer, that ends here - and I do believe I have already purchased what will have been my last iPod, and my last Jobs-branded computing device.

    Not to "drama it up", but really, the last straw has now appeared on this desk - it was hanging above for quite some time, though, and here it falls.

    Sink or swim, Apple, and fare the well on the changing seas of the free-market tech economy.

    1. MD Rackham

      It's always possible...

      ...that Apple simply decided that they couldn't make a go of a music subscription service. You know, just like Microsoft and Sony and...

      I have no idea of Lala's subscription numbers, but they would need to be quite high to make it work. And for the last 18 months or so, everyone I know has been dropping all the monthly subscription bills they can (cable, extra phone, etc) in favor of buying food, paying the rent, etc. That has to have had some impact on the numbers, even once they had Apple's resources behind them.

      It's not always about evil machinations, even with Steve.

      1. Someone Else Silver badge
        Jobs Horns

        @MD Rackham

        The point of Lala was, that it **wasn't** a subscription least, not in the sense of eMusic or Rhapsody. It is a pay-as-you-go service, where you had options as to what you paid for: full downloads, or the ability, (or "right" to play a paid-for song anywhere, any-when you wanted.

  5. Mage Silver badge

    Lou Gosselin; Fantasy

    "I mentioned this above, since mp3s are a better representation of the wave form. Bit for bit mp3s have far superior fidelity than CDs."

    Nonsense. Read up on the difference between quantisation, sampling, linear encoding and compression.

    MP3s are not better representation, they don't really represent the waveform at all directly. They are a pysco-acoustical lossy fudge to reduce storage. CD's use PCM encoding, they are an exact copy of the waveform, to the temporal limit of 1/2 sampling rate and amplitude limit of the digital quantisation.

    To non-humans or maybe Aliens, mp3's at *ANY* bit rate might sound terrible. MP3 is a lossy compression method that takes advantage of how we perceive stuff. It does this "better" than MP2 and "worse" than AAC. But Identical bitrate and quantisation PCM encoding is the "gold" benchmark. That's what EVERY scheme starts and ends with. Where do you think they get the data for MP3s and how do you hear them?

  6. Mage Silver badge


    Why no Borg icon?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Accessing tunes anywhere...

    "As comforting as it may be to have your own physical tune files on your own physical hard drive, a subscription service does have the unarguable advantage of allowing you to access all your tunes from all your devices - mobile, desktop, or otherwise (think car audio)."

    Umm, last I looked you can copy MP3s pretty much wherever you like, mobile, desktop, MP3 player (no!) or even a memory stick. You even get car audio players that play MP3 CDs...

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    CD's scratch easily?

    I remember when CDs were introduced, one of their supposed qualities was that they didn't scratch or the scratches didn't matter (not like vinyl LPs - where the tiniest scratch will be heard)

  9. The Envoy


    As I recall when they arrived they were the pinnacle of sound. Futuristic, shiny silver platters sans scratches and noise. They had the ultimate in sound reproduction, and you couldn't scratch or wear them out like vinyl. They were ... perfect.

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