Technologizer posts about iTunes

Kara Swisher reports that Facebook blocked Apple from accessing its API after the Cupertino company failed to reach an agreement with the social networking service over Ping, and then proceeded to attempt to use the APIs anyway. Facebook allows free access to its APIs unless its a potential drain on resources. iTunes has 160 million plus potential Pingers — obviously no small change. There is a chance Facebook integration could still happen: Kara’s sources say the two companies are still talking.

Posted by Ed at 1:52 pm

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FTC Closes Case Over Fake iTunes Reviews

By  |  Posted at 10:45 am on Friday, August 27, 2010

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The Federal Trade Commission has settled with Reverb Communications over fake positive reviews posted on behalf of its clients in the iTunes App Store. The company represents several developers who produce apps for iOS, and helped raise their ratings by posting the reviews.

FTC officials did not disclose which companies worked with Reverb to boost their ratings, nor did they say that those companies shared any fault. They ordered Reverb to have all comments removed within a period of seven days.

Continue reading this story…



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Are iTunes Subscriptions Inevitable?

By  |  Posted at 10:49 am on Thursday, July 15, 2010

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Apple CEO Steve Jobs has said in the past that consumers are not interested in subscription music services. He may be wrong: NPD has conducted a survey and found that as many as 7 to 8 million iTunes customers could be willing to pay $10 or month or more for access to their music libraries or to stream music.

Add this one up and you see a potential $840 to 960 million (or more) annual business could be sitting right underneath Apple’s nose. “[This] is roughly two-thirds the revenue garnered by the current pay-per-download model,” NPD analyst Ross Crupnick said.

Such numbers could propel Apple even further ahead of Microsoft in market capitalization, and give it more cash to continue its stratospheric growth. How could Apple turn that down?

There are some indications that Apple’s position on subscription music may be changing a bit. Rumors swirled earlier this year that the company had approached the labels about some type of cloud-based music service, but apparently details have not yet been discussed. That would mean any service probably would not appear for quite awhile yet.

Increasing interest in subscriptions and streaming could have a lot to do with the changing technological capabilities of the consumer. With increasing smartphone usage and fairly widespread coverage now of 3G (and faster) wireless data, the consumer has the capability.

Services like Pandora are nice, however the user cannot control what plays: accessing their own libraries or songs on demand looks increasingly enticing.

Whatever Apple decides to do, it should act fast. Google is said to be working on its own music service to debut later this year. It also apparently will include some type of streaming component, using its strength in search to help it drive business.



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Apple TV, iTunes Updated; World Remains Unchanged

By  |  Posted at 5:56 pm on Thursday, October 29, 2009

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Apple has dusted the cobwebs off of Apple TV with a new software upgrade that introduces a redesigned user interface, which is intended to make it easier to play favorites. iTunes 9.0.2 was released in conjunction with the update.

Apple TV 3.0 has a redesigned main menu that adds shortcuts to recently rented or purchased movies. TV shows, music, podcasts, photos and YouTube are also front and center.

In addition, iTunes extras and iTunes LP content can now be played on the Apple TV in full screen. Genius mixes and Internet radio can now be played through home theater systems. The iTunes upgrade adds HE-AAC playback and encoding.

I still wonder when Apple will start a subscription service. For the moment, my colleague Harry McCracken has largely forsaken his Apple TV for a Roku, because his Roku gives him unlimited content through Netflix.

Apple TV is a nice device, but it is not, as Harry has stated, “an iPod-like transcendent hit.” I’m sure it would work well paired with one of those snazzy new 27″ iMacs, but very little (other than iTunes synchronization) differentiates Apple TV from its competitors. How about it, Steve?

There has been rumors abound about Apple getting into the TV business, and selling an all-in-one unit. I would be happy to forsake a box for a TV that has Apple software built in. My tiny Manhattan living room doesn’t have much space for more stuff.

Apple TV 3.0 is a free download for existing customers; new 160GB units cost $229. Last month, Apple slashed the Apple TV’s price, and increased capacity.



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iTunes Gets a Makeover, New Features

By  |  Posted at 10:41 am on Wednesday, September 9, 2009

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ituneslogoThe first announcement off of the pipeline is a new version of iTunes, which is available immediately. iTunes 9 contains a few significant enhancements, so lets run through them.

Improved Syncing: Definitely a useful feature. Many of us have iPods smaller than our music collections, so Apple’s enhancements here should help. You can sync via a certain type of music, such as artist or genre. Photos work in the same way too: here it could be a person or event. Movies even work — only syncing new movies. At the same time you may select media that you always want to sync.

In other words, much greater control over what media is on your iPod or iPhone.

Home Sharing: This feature allows a user to copy media on up to five computers on his or her home network. Users would be able to see what files are missing from their libraries that are on other computers and copy it over.

iTunes LP: This new offering is likely a result of the variable pricing that the record industry won from Apple a while back. Just like your old LPs, these packaged deals would include extras, including cover art, lyrics, videos and the like.

Social Media: As rumored, you can share “Wish Lists” to Facebook and Twitter.



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Palm Goes For the Throat in Apple Tiff

By  |  Posted at 3:23 pm on Tuesday, August 4, 2009

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Pre Disguised as iPhoneApple locking you out of iTunes? Call on the USB Implementers Forum. That’s Palm’s tact as it looks to muscle its way back into the smartphone space. Its complaint to the group which manages the standards for USB alleges that Apple is misusing those standards by permitting only its own devices to use the application.

It’s unknown what may come out of it as this is basically the first time a company has taken this route in attempting to break into the walled garden that is iPod/iTunes. That is essentially what the Pre’s Media Sync does–it tricks iTunes into thinking the Pre is an Apple device.

That strategy has its pitfalls too: it very well could be against the policies of the USB governing board, but Palm is saying its the only available route because of the way iTunes is set up.

Palm has a lot riding on the Pre: many industry watchers see the device as the last hope for the company which has slowly been fading since its heyday when Palm Pilots were the rage, and its acquisition of Handspring’s Treo helped catapult it into the smartphone industry.

The company will likely again build a workaround, continuing a cat and mouse game between the two companies. Apple has shown a willingness to play for as long as is needed, so Palm better have developers on call to continue to break into iTunes when needed.

It’s a smart move for Palm to at least try. With iPods so ubiquitous, and many using it to organize their digital media, as the saying goes “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

But in the end, we all know Jobs and Co. want Apple to stay at the center of the iTunes universe, and will do what is necessary to keep it that way. Palm better be ready to be in this for the long haul.



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Michael Jackson Takes Over Amazon and iTunes

By  |  Posted at 12:04 pm on Saturday, June 27, 2009

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Michael JacksonReasonable people can disagree about just what Michael Jackson’s legacy is, and whether or not he was the biggest pop star of all time. But this much seems pretty much undeniable: He’s the biggest pop star to have died in the Web age. And so the Web is reflecting things about the reaction to his passing that give us more knowledge than we had when Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Elvis Presley, and John Lennon left us.

Amazon.com and Apple’s iTunes Store, for instance, both tell us their top sellers on a continuous basis, and as I write this, both are awash in Michael Jackson and Jackson Five items. More details after the jump.

Continue reading this story…



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iTunes Price Hikes Treating the Industry Just Fine

By  |  Posted at 5:42 pm on Wednesday, April 15, 2009

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ituneslogoIf you thought the recording industry would suffer for pushing higher prices on iTunes and other download services, you’d be wrong.

Billboard reports weaker sales for iTunes tracks whose price changed from 99 cents to $1.29 a week ago, but overall revenues for the Top 100 still rose by roughly 10 percent.

iTunes adopted a “variable pricing” structure on April 7 as part of a new agreement with record labels. While most tracks still cost 99 cents, some popular songs became 30 cents more expensive, while a selection of random classics were priced at 69 cents. Forget about storming off to another service; Amazon, Napster, Lala, Rhapsody and Wal-Mart. The deal also marked the end of Digital Rights Management on iTunes tracks.

Looking at some of the $1.29 tracks whose sales were holding steady in the weeks before variable pricing, you can get a pretty clear picture of the effects. Sales of “Beautiful” by Akon dropped from 57,941 last week to 52,760 this week. That means the song generated an additional $10,699 at the new price level. The less-popular “Stanky Legg” (what?) by GS Boyz slipped by 2,994 in sales but still earned an extra $2943.54.

Missing from Billboard’s report are statistics on the songs whose price decreased. Along with the costlier tracks, iTunes launched two compilations — Rock and Classic R&B — at 69 cents per song. I have a feeling revenue increased for those songs, simply because they were lifted from obscurity and offered on sale.

All of this makes me wonder whether the recording industry will try to push prices even higher in the future. Thus far, the “voting with your wallet” concept hasn’t worked, so what’s the threshold at which consumers will resist? $1.50 per song? How about $2?



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So Much for Cheaper Music on Amazon


Well, it didn’t take very long for the other music stores to follow suit after iTunes’ price hike Tuesday. By late evening, both Amazon and Wal-Mart had simarily raised prices on some of their top tracks by 30 cents. Both had priced their tracks at 99 and 94 cents respectively.

Like iTunes, both stores have cheaper tracks too: Amazon will have tracks for 79 and 89 cents, and Wal-Mart will have selected tracks at a price of 64 cents. In either case, though, the number of more expensive tracks in the top 100 are much less than iTunes.

For Amazon, that number is only eight, and Wal-Mart has 17.

Posted by Ed Oswald at 9:19 am

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Apple Goes to Variable Pricing, Amazon Now A Better Deal

By  |  Posted at 9:31 am on Tuesday, April 7, 2009

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ituneslogoWell, it happened. iTunes instituted variable pricing early Tuesday, and the effects are already rippling through the online music store. Five of the top 10, and eight of the top 25 songs now cost $1.29.

One thing we’ve still been unable to locate? Those 69-cent tracks. Nowhere to be found — maybe we’re missing them? But I guess if we’re looking at things overall, the price increase isn’t as widespread as some may have thought.

The price hike certainly opens up the door to Amazon MP3. All songs on that store are still 99 cents, but this could be more a function of a different expiration date on that store’s contract with the record labels. Then again, this could be a veiled trick to push all of us to music stores other than Apple in an attempt to break iTunes dominance.

Record labels have made it no secret that they aren’t happy that Apple is pretty much the only game in town when it comes to digital music.

In any case, Amazon MP3 is showing signs of life. While iTunes had a 87 percent share of the market in 2008, its competitor has managed a 16 percent share, the best showing so far for anybody according to NPD data.

Amazon’s music store is having a good deal of success with the older crowd, so the company may find it prudent to begin targeting this demographic a little heavier in an attempt to gain some more share.



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The More Phone App Stores the Merrier

By  |  Posted at 5:19 pm on Thursday, March 26, 2009

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BlackBerry OpenBusinessWeek is reporting that RIM is close to opening an online application store for its BlackBerry smartphones that will provide its customers with an experience similar to Apple’s App Store. Microsoft, Nokia, and Palm application stores are expected to follow.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but for Apple’s competitors, it’s a matter of necessity. Apple offers iPhone users a seamless experience for discovering, purchasing, and upgrading their applications. The competition lags far behind, but is preparing to counter punch.

The first punch comes from RIM. It will launch its application store in Las Vegas at the CTIA wireless conference, according to the BusinessWeek report. RIM has a fair number of applications available for its platform, but the selection is still limited in comparison to other mobile platforms. That shortcoming was something that I did not like about my BlackBerry, as well as having to reboot my phone every time I installed a new application.

Microsoft’s upcoming store, which it calls Marketplace, has a lot of potential. If Microsoft knows anything, it’s how to keep developers that use its platforms and tools happy. There are already a good number of applications available for Windows Mobile, and I think that Marketplace stands a good chance of being be a decent offering.

The same goes for Nokia. The Symbian operating system is still the most widely used mobile operating system in the world, and there is no shortage of applications available for its devices. The problem has been finding and installing them.

If other phone OS companies open decent storefronts, the iPhone will be less differentiated from the crowd. But Apple may have already gained brand loyalty during the iPhone’s period of App-Store uniqueness. I’m not what you would call a fanboy, but there would have to be a really compelling offering for me to switch to another device from my iPhone. Regardless of what I buy next, I’m just happy that I will have better products to pick from as a consequence of Apple’s leadership and the rest of the industry’s tendency to follow its lead.



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iTunes Price Hike Set to Take Effect on April 7

By  |  Posted at 8:49 am on Thursday, March 26, 2009

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ituneslogoGet ready for it. If you like any current music, it would probably be a really good idea to buy it right now. This is because Apple appears to be set to institute variable pricing beginning on April 7. The price of most popular music would go up to $1.29, including some classic tracks.

In all fairness to Apple, we should also state that some tracks will actually become cheaper at 69 cents apiece, but it is not clear how and what the record industry plans to charge. Package deals of music would also be offered.

I think raising the prices for digital music is a big mistake. 99 cents is a good price (and a fair one too) considering the overhead is much less. I do support however making older tracks cheaper: that just makes good sense.

We’ll know pretty much right away if this price hike will work. A good thing to watch will be P2P traffic: if it spikes, we know consumers are turning back to piracy rather than pay more money. iTunes has a big enough userbase to cause such a shift.

Hopefully like Apple says, most tracks will stay at 99 cents. But I’m not holding my breath as the record industry has proven to be a greedy bunch.



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One Last Thing, And It’s About iTunes

By  |  Posted at 10:33 am on Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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I guess Steve has “one more thing” trademarked. Phil wrapped up this years keynote with a little news on iTunes, which involves three things: price, which would now be in three tiers: 69 cents, 99 cents, and $1.29; the ability to purchase music over AT&T 3G; and what we’ve been waiting for, 8 million DRM-free tracks on iTunes from the four major labels, with the entire store DRM-free by the end of the quarter.

More details as we get them..



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iTunes Goes DRM-Free, Gets More Expensive…and Gets Cheaper?

By  |  Posted at 2:10 am on Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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ituneslogoIt might or might be announced this morning at Macworld Expo, but it seems inevitable: CNET is reporting that Apple has hammered out a deal to sell DRM-free music from Sony BMG, Universal, and Warner, joining EMI’s iTunes Plus DRM-less music in the iTunes Store. The agreement would finally give Apple DRM-free music from all the major labels–something it really needs given that Amazon.com and most other major purveyors of music downloads have lost the copy protection.

Amazon.com also undercuts Apple’s pricing on many tracks; CNET reports that Apple’s deal with the labels will force it to drop its flat 99-cent fee in favor of variable pricing, with hot new stuff sometimes costing more, and back-catalog songs going for 79 cents. Seems like a reasonable concession to me (and complete albums already go for varying prices at the iTunes Store).

I don’t recommend buying DRM-hobbled music, which means that don’t recommend buying the protected songs that still comprise the majority of Apple’s offerings. It’ll feel good if I can stop warning folks about the iTunes Store–and I’ll bet Apple is looking forward to losing the DRM as much as anybody at this point.



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