Apple has revealed it will close Lala, the online music streaming service it acquired in December, on May 31.

The move comes just five months after Apple bought Lala for an undisclosed price.

Could this indicate Apple is serious about opening up a web-based version of iTunes software-based storefront based on the Lala platform?

Some speculate Apple may announce a web-based version of iTunes this June at the company's annual Worldwide Developers Conference.

Apple has never said why it bought the company or what it planned to do with the service, but the purchase has prompted wide speculation that Apple is planning to introduce a cloud-based version of iTunes.

Lala allowed you to upload your own music library to access your music content from a web-based interface.

You could also listen to songs one time for free; purchase web-only, non-downloadable versions of singles called 'web songs' at $0.10 (6p) per song; as well as purchase mp3 music downloads.

At the time of its purchase by Apple, Lala boasted over eight million songs in its catalogue.

What the end of Lala means for you

Lala is no longer accepting new customers, but US residents that already have a Lala account will be able to use the service until May 31, 2010 - Lala did not specify an exact time for the shutdown.

Those that have outstanding credit with Lala through its digital wallet service, can continue to use those credits to make purchases until Lala service ends.

Lala will also be offering iTunes Store credit to those that have outstanding wallet credits and unredeemed Lala gift cards.

Users will also be re-imbursed the dollar amount for any web song purchases made using Lala.

Store credits will be rounded up to the "nearest $1 for refunds under $10, or to the nearest $5 for refunds greater than $10," according to Lala.

Users can also receive your refund as a cheque by visiting Lala and clicking on the link in the fine print at the bottom of the page. at WWDC 2010?

Lala's final day of operation comes just one week before Apple's annual Worldwide Developers Conference, where the company has traditionally introduced new iPhone devices and other products.

With the end of Lala coming so close to WWDC 2010, the move has sparked some speculation that Apple could introduce a web-based version of iTunes as early as June.

Backing up that assertion is a January report from The Wall Street Journal stating that Apple has been working on a "web-based version of [iTunes] that could launch as soon as June...tentatively called"

Currently, redirects to the dedicated iTunes page on Apple's website.

See also: Apple to turn iTunes into Spotify streaming rival?