Apple and iTunes have revolutionized the way we purchase and consume music. But there are newer and more exciting things happening in the world of digital music than the ubiquitous 99-cent download. And if you don’t think it’s true, perhaps you’re just a self-centered Mac-o-phile. (Don’t take it personally. I’m one, too.)
Dim Bulb’s Jonathan Salem Baskin wrote recently that rather than battling for the right to more broadly advertise mature and adults only-rated video games, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) would be better served investing in developers willing to challenge the gaming status quo. I share his hope that the industry will evolve beyond its current incarnation, and I too have written that the user-controlled sadism found in popular first-person games requires a different rating consideration than comparable subject matter in movies and music. Participants in this debate, for censorship and against, find common ground in calling for parents to better educate themselves about their children’s entertainment choices and take greater responsibility for their purchases. A few changes, however, are complicating matters.
Merlin: iTunes Remains Biggest Digital Destination; Spotify + Amazon 2nd And 3rd; Streaming Still Ju
“The new generation of digital services has created a new dynamic of consumer freedom, limitless choice and myriad paths to discovery,”
Remember all that talk before the holidays about the blissful union between brick-and-mortar retailers and mobile users? Retailers seemed to have accepted that many of their customers shop with smartphones in hand — and retailers even appeared to be embracing it. A Deloitte consultant who follows these things, Kasey Lobaugh, told Internet Retailer that retailers: "... need to invest in providing customer connectivity in the store, including in-store Wi-Fi, ... building functionality that best serves the customer at the 'point of need' and thinking about the capabilities that align with the customer's location and context, as the customer may be in the store with a smartphone in hand or in a variety of other locations and scenarios." Indeed, Macy's, Sears, and Nordstrom boasted about their in-store free Wi-Fi. Personally, I realized this meant I no longer had to chase after the Home Depot staff whose "Ask Me" shirts always seem to be disappearing just around the far end of the aisle. I could now ask my iPhone.
Anyone who's spent an hour waiting to download a movie from Apple Inc.'s iTunes Store, or hunting for a recent release on Netflix Inc.'s streaming service, knows that online movies aren't exactly ready for prime time.
When the album designer Michael Carney submitted his proposed cover for the Black Keys’ album “Brothers” last year, he and the band were a little anxious. Seeking a change from their previous, illustration-driven packaging, which he’d also designed, Mr. Carney devised the simplest of covers: two sentences — “This is an album by the Black Keys. The name of this album is Brothers” — set against a black background.
Over the last decade, American culture has been overtaken by a curious, overwhelming sense of nostalgia. Everywhere you look, there seems to be some new form of revivalism going on. The charts are dominated by old-school-sounding acts like Adele and Mumford & Sons. The summer concert schedule is dominated by reunion tours. TV shows like VH1's "I Love the 90s" allow us to endlessly rehash the catchphrases of the recent past. And, thanks to YouTube and iTunes, new forms of music and pop culture are facing increasing competition from the ever-more-accessible catalog of older acts.
iTunes as we know it is over. It is walking, talking, and continuing to pretend it's alive, but Spotify, Europe's outrageously successful streaming music product, has just shown us the future.
A group of high-ranking cable television executives met with Apple Inc. Chief Executive Steve Jobs in Silicon Valley last April to discuss how to make more movies and TV shows available on Apple's newly launched iPad tablet device. Those discussions eventually led to the live cable TV apps launched in recent weeks by Cablevision Systems Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., which could transform how consumers watch TV in their homes but have raised objections from programmers.
The Catholic Church has endorsed its first mobile app: "Confession: A Roman Catholic App," now available on iTunes for $1.99.
The big question for anyone in television is how to get in front of - rather than be trampled by - the onslaught of seminal change coming from a multitude of places. This year's fall television season unfolds against an increasingly connected world and consumer indifference to how and where they access network fare. Many will access the programs they want to see streaming online from network Web sites and third parties, such as Apple's iTunes.
While the number of accounts that were breached in the latest incident was small—Apple said about 400 of its 150 million iTunes users were affected—it renews concerns about how well companies and individuals are protecting sensitive data.
Since late 2005, Apple's stock has quintupled. With a market capitalization of close to $250 billion, Apple is (at least today) the third most valuable company in the world, behind ExxonMobil and Microsoft. It's a stunning story that's been dissected to death, but still remarkable enough to warrant reflection. Ten years ago — three years after Chairman and CEO Steve Jobs had returned to "rescue" Apple — the company was still largely treading water, with a relatively meager $3 billion market capitalization. Its personal computer products had a loyal following in niche markets, but that was about it. Over the past decade, Apple has launched five legitimately game-changing innovations.
Although BlackBerry is the most widely used smartphone system in the United States, with 43 percent of the market, its application strategy seems to have failed. Research in Motion's BlackBerry App World is significantly less crowded than Apple’s App Store. As of the beginning of this year, there were around 150,000 applications in iTunes, whereas BlackBerry App World had between 10,000 and 15,000 applications and Android was slightly higher, but in the same ballpark. There is not too much going on in terms of branded BlackBerry applications and it is rather ironic considering its marketshare.
The latest retransmission fee rift between Walt Disney's WABC-TV and Cablevision, as well as Viacom yanking its popular "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" from Hulu over ad revenue-sharing, strengthens the argument for a la carte content -- allowing consumers to pay for just what they want, when they want. The complex sphere of content economics is being fractured by continuous conflict and experimentation by bundling cable operators and other content aggregators at one end of the spectrum and iTunes and Netflix paid downloads on the other.
Now that the histrionics surrounding the debut of Apple's iPad have fizzled into a rational, and often uninspired, discussion of the device’s actual merits and shortcomings, Apple is left with the iReality of the iPad. Reviews are mixed, but the brand is being proactive about taking the lead regarding the public conversation.
Hewlett-Packard Co. launched Monday a subscription music service across 10 countries in Europe with U.K. mobile music start-up Omnifone Ltd., moving into a market dominated by Apple Inc.'s iTunes.
Last time there was this much excitement about a tablet, it had some commandments written on it. A blizzard of speculation is building over Apple's as-yet-unconfirmed release of a tablet computer. Among other things, the tablet is expected to offer e-books and TV programs. Apple has been trying to get TV networks to license their programming for a subscription service planned as part of a revamp of iTunes, presumably with the tablet in mind.
Nokia Oyj Chief Executive Officer Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo said this month he’s “really bullish” about the company’s “Comes With Music” package, a phone bundled with unlimited songs. Analysts say it leaves them cold. Services like Comes With Music from Nokia, the world’s largest mobile-phone maker, to take on Apple Inc.’s iPhone are too little too late, said Tero Kuittinen, an analyst at Greenwich, Connecticut-based MKM.
Apple Inc., 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.
Apple bought internet music site Lala.com late on Friday for an undisclosed amount, a development that could lead to the addition of streaming songs and new payment systems at Apple’s iTunes, the world’s biggest music retailer. Apple confirmed the deal but declined to say what it would do with Lala, which currently allows users to listen to any song or album once without paying.
If the Newspaper Association of America and Google were to display their relationship on Facebook, the description would read “It’s complicated.” As newspaper revenues continue to tank, the NAA has stepped up its sort of passive-aggressive lashing out at the search giant for, well, essentially being more effective at monetizing the distribution of its content than they are. In a twist that’s probably a surprise to almost no one, the potential suitor for saving the newspapers from the bugaboo of Google might well be… Google. The company submitted a document indicating it is in the process of building a sophisticated micropayments system based on Google Checkout that would allow publishers to charge for individual pieces or bundles of content.
Yes, he’s back. When the Apple event started today, CEO Steve Jobs took the stage to a very long standing ovation. He used his opening remarks to talk about the importance of organ donation. Jobs noted that he now had the liver of a person in their mid-20s who died in a car crash. Jobs urged everyone to think about organ donation, as it saved his life. After that, Jobs thanked Apple’s executive team, and especially Tim Cook, who steered Apple’s ship in his absence. But then it was time for Jobs to quickly move into some impressive statistics.
We recently described a lot of ways augmented reality (AR) is going to appear on a mobile device near you soon. But now it's here: The first "real" iPhone AR app has gone live in the iTunes App Store. It's specifically for Parisians. But it's arrived earlier than expected--weeks before Apple said it would be allowed. And by early, we mean it's arrived in the App Store by stealth, snuck in as an added-feature in an update to an existing app--Metro Paris Subway. It's unofficial because technically Apple's is not opening the doors to full AR until it releases the new 3.1 code for the iPhone, which is widely expected in September. This code will add in a few more hooks to make AR apps work in a fully-integrated way with the iPhone's video functions...but it seems that Metro Paris's developers PresseLite have found a way to get it all working pretty well with the existing iPhone 3.0 code.
Not many branded iPhone games have broken through, but a new one from U.K.-based Barclaycard has quickly become the most popular free, branded game in the history of the iTunes App Store.
Apple is working with the four largest record labels to stimulate digital sales of albums by bundling a new interactive booklet, sleeve notes and other interactive features with music downloads, in a move it hopes will change buying trends on its online iTunes store.
Wired magazine editor-in-chief Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory (article, book, blog) predicts digital distribution will lead to a jump in demand for niche content. Not so for music trading hands on peer-to-peer networks, a new study reports, concluding hits are in highest demand just as they are in the retail market.
As the company moves from marketing to its once-niche following -- many experts have suggested Apple customers were for many years a cult -- to selling to the ever-broadening sweep of iPhone, iPod and iTouch users, it finds itself wrestling with some of the same issues that confront other truly "mass" marketers, such as whether it needs to be an arbiter, or some might say censor, of what content it makes available.
The growing popularity of free video-viewing site Hulu could test the viability of Apple's pay-as-you-go iTunes download business.
Yesterday, prices on Apple's iTunes service went all kablooey. Songs now retail at three price points: $.69, $.99, and $1.29. It's likely that most "popular" songs will be offered at the higher price point, though the record labels reserved the right to decide (and a brief check today revealed at least a few Top Songs still going for $.99. The presumption is that deep cuts/catalog songs will retail for $.69. Or something. Do consumers benefit from the new pricing? Of course not. The record labels insisted on it, solely because they can.
Music sites with freely accessible content are being used by a growing number of listeners as a substitute for buying music.
Students have been handed another excuse to skip class from an unusual quarter. New psychological research suggests that university students who download a podcast lecture achieve substantially higher exam results than those who attend the lecture in person.
Nokia's just pulled the wrappers off of its Ovi application store at Mobile World Congress--can it really compete against the might of Apple's App Store and the iTunes eco-system?
The portable music revolution has only been with us for a few years, but we may already be on the cusp of the another paradigm shift: With smartphones becoming commoditized -- and with so many excellent music apps being designed for them -- it's becoming viable to leave your MP3 player at home and tune into the cloud.
My friend David Carr poses a worthy challenge in his New York Times column this morning: How can newspapers—now hemorrhaging advertisers and circulation—steal a little of that Apple magic and invent an iTunes for news that will help restore their economic standing?
Remember that when iTunes began, the music industry was being decimated by file sharing. By coming up with an easy user interface and obtaining the cooperation of a broad swath of music companies, Mr. Jobs helped pull the business off the brink. Those of us who are in the newspaper business could not be blamed for hoping that someone like him convinces the millions of interested readers who get their news every day free on newspapers sites that it’s time to pay up.
After years of fits, starts, threats and ultimatums, Steve Jobs and three major labels have come to terms on a deal: Music will be available immediately on iTunes without DRM restrictions. Free of the limitations that currently restrict music playback to Apple products, the new plan will let consumers choose from three price levels instead of the 99-cent song model the store implemented on day one.
The big theme at this year’s Macworld Expo is not a product, it’s a year: 2010. Next year’s conference is touted on banners, information booklets, and even the show badges, which come with an ad for next year’s event — the first without Apple, its anchor tenant.
This week the media is a-squabble over the death rattles coming from the book publishing industry. Yes, it's in dire condition. But a new business model might bring readers back. Call it the Free Lunch model.
ScrollMotion, a New York mobile app developer, has concluded deals with a number of major publishing houses, and is in talks with several others, to produce newly released and best-selling e-books as applications for the iPhone and iPod touch. Having these big names is a big step forward for iTunes itself in becoming an e-book shop and the iPhone in becoming a legitimate e-book reader and competitor to products like the Kindle and the Sony E-Reader.