As the online music world continues to be defined and refined, Apple's purchase of Lala Media is noteworthy. While no one can dispute the success of iTunes as a music discovery and revenue generating portal, the process of finding new songs and artists online has morphed considerably over the past few years.
I discovered this one day over a year ago, and wrote about it on this blog. I found my son "watching" full-length songs on YouTube. He wasn't terribly interested in the video, but was using YouTube as a way to discover new songs, and listen to them in their entirety - not in 20-second snippets like iTunes offers.
And more recently, the fast-rising success of Pandora and similar services has to be telling the Apple geniuses that streaming (for a small fee per song) is a great way to enjoy music, even if you don't own it.
Of course, Apple is staying quiet on their ultimate plans for Lala, but already, there is reportedly a Lala iPhone app in development. This reaffirms the value of streaming model, and it also underscores the importance of the iPhone and other smartphones as a portable, take anywhere conduit.
In a perfect world, Apple will activate that alleged chip that will allow FM radio broadcasts in the iPhone. But in the event it never happens or occurs some time down the road, Steve Jobs has given radio the open door to the iPhone via branded apps.
Obviously, that's been our play at jacAPPS for more than a year now, and 100 apps later, there is no better way for terrestrial radio brands to buy "real estate" on the iPhone.
A lot of pundits make light of streaming apps, claiming that these smartphone applications can do so much more. Of course, that's true, and radio and personality brands would do well to put some time in creating strategies for the apps they develop.
But when consumers enjoy listening to your radio station - and millions of them still do every day in this country - an iPhone or BlackBerry app that elegantly streams is a pretty cool gift in and of itself. As Apple adopts a streaming model with Lala, terrestrial radio stations can stay ahead of this game by ensuring their content is available on the most popular smartphones.