The Wall Street Journal is weighing in on Apple's purchase of online streaming music service, Lala, saying Apple is using it to explore taking iTunes to the cloud: 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.

According to the WSJ, Apple paid $85 million for Lala, and that the big brains behind the service would be given "very significant roles" inside Apple.

Even before the acquisition closed Friday, Lala Chairman Bill Nguyen and Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president for Internet services, began making joint calls to various business partners, including record-label groups, discussing possibilities for the music service's future.

Big Media is said to be cautiously optimistic about the concept, "optimistic" about web-based purchases, but "cautious" about adding to iTunes already dominant position in online music. And, of course, with plans still in the early stages, much could change before Steve Jobs or Phil Schiller put sneaker to stage and announce a customer facing solution.

While anywhere, anytime access sounds appealing, they also point out that past services have had problems negotiating "virtual goods", such as Amazon pulling books from users' Kindles, and we'd add Microsoft's DRM services shutting down and placing access to user-purchased content in doubt. There's still that Google partnership to navigate as well.

All in all, however, if iTunes goes cloud, as long as we still have the ability to buy and download music as well if we so choose, TiPb thinks it will be a net gain. (No pun intended). What do you think?