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Apple to shutter Lala May 31

Apple is shutting down the Lala music service on May 31, triggering new speculation about a cloud-based subscription version of iTunes.

A notice appeared on Apple Inc.’s Lala music Web site late Thursday announcing it will shut down on May 31.

The announcement said that new users will no longer be accepted but existing users can continue to log in only until the end of May.

Apple bought Palo Alto-based Lala in December, triggering speculation about whether it would start offering a cloud-based version of iTunes. The shutdown announcement has now triggered speculation that this could be announced at June’s Apple developers conference.

The Wall Street Journal reported after the sale that Apple was thinking of adopting the Lala model of letting users buy an online-only version of songs for a much lower price that the 99 cents Apple now sells to own most tunes. Lala lets users listen to any song once without paying and pay 10 cents to be able to stream the music online, or 89 cents for most songs that can be played on a portable music player.

Apple said that any songs that Lala users have downloaded onto their computers will continue to play after the shutdown. In addition, users will get a credit to use on iTunes for any song they have purchased through Lala.

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