Apple Plots Reboot of iTunes for Web

Apple Inc. (AAPL), the company that restructured the music industry around its iTunes service, is exploring an overhaul of the way it sells and stores music that is aimed at extending its influence to the Web, according to people briefed on the strategy.

The key vehicle for the move is Apple’s newly acquired music-streaming service La La Media Inc. for which Apple paid $85 million, according to people familiar with the matter. Where Apple’s iTunes requires users to download music onto a specific computer, Lala.com lets users buy and listen to music through a Web browser, meaning its customers can access purchases from anywhere, as long as they are connected to the Internet.

Apple is considering adopting that same model for songs sold on iTunes, a change that would give consumers more ways to access and manage their iTunes purchases–and wouldn’t require them to download Apple’s software or their purchases.

That new business model extends Apple’s grip on the music business, giving it the ability to sell music through search engines and other Web sites and broaden its reach beyond people who come to its virtual store.

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