Album sales in the United States jumped 3% during 2011 according to one report. That may seem like minor growth, but it is actually the first time album sales have increased since 2004. Nielsen SoundScan said Adele’s album “21” sold 5.8 million copies, and total sales came in at 458 million albums for the year. Make no mistake, however, CD sales are still on the decline. Sales of full digital albums climbed 20% to 103 million units but CD sales dropped 6% to 225 million units. Nielsen’s senior vice president of analytics Dave Bakula said the addition of Google’s music store in the Android Market also helped serve as a catalyst for digital music sales growth. “It shows there’s still a lot of growth potential in digital,” Bakula said. “That’s something I don’t see falling down.” More →
Facebook has decided to kill off its Facebook Deals product, a service that was launched to compete with other coupon service providers such as Groupon and LivingSocial. “After testing Deals for four months, we’ve decided to end our Deals product in the coming weeks,” Facebook told Reuters. “We think there is a lot of power in a social approach to driving people into local businesses. We’ve learned a lot from our test and we’ll continue to evaluate how to best serve local businesses.” Facebook will instead focus on Pages, Sponsored Stories and its Ads product. Facebook announced Deals in November and began testing the service in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. It partnered with aDealio, Gilt City, HomeRun, kgb deals, OpenTable, Plum District, PopSugar City, ReachLocal, Tippr, viagogo and zozi to power the service. More →
Dish Network on Thursday revealed plans to shutter 200 additional Blockbuster stores, dropping the number of nationwide locations to approximately 1,500. Dish won an auction to take control of Blockbuster and its remaining assets this past April, after the fallen giant filed for bankruptcy last September. Dish said that the 15,000 employees working in Blockbuster locations that will remain operational will not lose their jobs. The company also said employees of the locations set to be shuttered will have the opportunity to transfer to other stores. Blockbuster failed to evolve with the shifting movie rental industry — when it finally did begin to offer new portfolio options to compete with the likes of Netflix, it neglected to add any real value or differentiation beyond competitive offerings. Coupled with the expense of operating physical rental shops, Blockbuster didn’t stand a chance. Dish Network acquired Blockbuster’s in April for approximately $228 million in cash, and it remains to be seen whether or not Dish can manage to transform the current business into something worthwhile. More →
Late last month, Amazon announced that customers subscribed to The New York Times via its eReader would qualify for a free digital subscription to the paper’s website. Not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble today announced that users subscribed to The Times via the NOOK Newsstand will also have full access to the publication’s web content, too. The famed paper made waves on March 17th when it announced that it was moving to a pay wall model for its website. Users are allowed to read twenty NYT articles each month before they bump into the new toll booth and are required to pay for access. While the publication noted that those subscribed to its traditional home delivery service would be given full-access to all online content, it was not made clear how those digesting the Times via eReaders would be affected. The full press release is after the break. More →
Today American Express introduced its new digital payment system called Serve. Serve works similar to PayPal in that it allows users to create an account that can be used for sending or receiving money. Users can access their accounts from American Express’ Serve iOS and Android applications, via the Web, or through Facebook. Serve has two fees, including 2.9% plus $0.30 per load deposited, although this is discounted to 0$ for cash, debit, and ACH. Similarly, there’s a $2 fee on ATM cash withdrawals, although the first withdrawal each month is free. The good news is, American Express is waiving the deposit fee for the next six months. Serve lets users create a master account and you can create sub-accounts for friends or family members. American Express also provides a debit card with each Serve account that can be be used at any ATM or merchant that accepts American Express. “We are working with a range of partners to integrate Serve as a payment method and deliver customized offers, and we will waive most consumer fees for the next six months,” said Dan Schulman, Group President, Enterprise Growth at American Express. Hit the jump for the full release. More →
Taiwanese handset giant HTC has announced a “strategic investment” made in the digital media-delivery company Saffron Digital. “Saffron Digital has developed an incredible expertise in mobile multimedia delivery,” said Peter Chou, HTC’s CEO. “This ability to deliver optimized content in the future will be a key asset as content becomes more and more complex and localized. We are excited to be working with Saffron to increase our global service delivery capabilities and expertise.” The company, which already does business with HTC, LG, Paramount Digital Entertainment, Sony Ericsson, T-Mobile and Nokia in Europe along with Samsung in the U.S., will, in all likelihood, bring digital content delivery to HTC’s Sense smartphone experience. The press release notes that Saffron will “continue to provide its cutting edge media and content services to its third party partners.” Hit the jump to check out the full announcement.
According to Mr. Hugh Hefner’s Twitter account, his company’s iconic Playboy magazine will be coming to Apple’s iPad, beginning in March, uncensored. Since the launch of the iPhone, Apple has been fairly strict in keeping adult materal off of its digital content store. The two tweets we’re referencing read:
Big news! Playboy–both old & new–will be available on iPad beginning in March.
and in a reply to a follower’s question:
@hughmcook Playboy on iPad will be uncensored, Hugh.
This is not the magazine’s first attempt to take advantage of the digital lifestyle consumers are embracing. Several months ago, Playboy began selling an external hard drive, priced at around $300, that contained a complete digital catalog of all Playboy publications from 1953 to 2010. Any gentlemen out there plan on subscribing to the iPad version of Playboy for… you know… the articles? More →
For this week’s Throwback Thursday, we’re rewinding time just fifteen short years back to 1996. A time when the Macarena was on top of the charts, the Olympics were in Atlanta, and fanny-packs were still moderately socially acceptable. We’re talking toys, and today we’re talking about Tamagotchis.
First sold in 1996, Tamagotchis were portable, digital pets often seen dangling from keychains and backpacks. Before you could care for Sims on your PC, you could purchase a Tamagotchi from your local toy store, activate it, name it, and care for it from its infancy all the way through its twilight years. The more love and affection you doted upon your digital pet — by feeding it, playing with it, and picking up after it — the better behaved it was (meaning: the less time you had to spend with it; ironic we know). Neglect your little, digital friend and it would die. The Tamagotchi came in a host of different forms: dogs, cats, zoo animals, humans — you name it and you could virtually care for it. Parents and parent groups were enamored with the toys; thinking they were an excellent way to teach children responsibility and hard work… or something like that.
How about it? What was the name of your Tamagotchi? More →
A camera without Wi-Fi? That’s so 2010. Today, Samsung announced its Wi-Fi enabled, 14.1 megapixel SH100 digital shooter. This new, connected camera has the ability to take your candids and, via its built-in Wi-Fi, display them on an HDTV with DLNA support, upload photos to Picasa or videos to YouTube, and post to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter… all without a computer. The camera can pair itself with your Android smartphone for use as a remote and wireless viewfinder:
You can use Wi-Fi to connect to your Android® powered Galaxy S™ smartphone, so you can view the shot you’re about to take in real time on your phone. If you’re not happy with it, you can zoom in and out to get the best picture, and then activate the shutter remotely when you’re ready to pose. This innovation means that the days of running between your camera and your subject, trying to line up the perfect group shot, are over. Users now have total control of their camera in the palm of their hand, from wherever they are in the shot. Users can even use their phone’s GPS to record exactly where they were when they captured their favorite memories.
The SH100 can also wirelessly backup its stored images to your home’s PC. Not bad Sammy, not bad at all. The camera, which will be showcased this week at CES, will retail for $199 and should go on sale in March. We’ll take two. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →
Retail giant Sears isn’t the first company that comes to mind when you think about digital movie downloads, but a newly launched offering aims to change that. The company has announced Alphaline Entertainment, a digital movie rental and download service that runs on the RoxioNow platform. First rumored back in July, Alphaline will offer users 24-hour movie rentals for between $3 and $4 or movie purchases for between $10 and $20. Movies can be viewed on a PC or on any RoxioNow capable device (e.g. Xbox 360). In the future, Sears hopes to support viewing on Macintosh computers, mobile devices, and network connected TVs. What do you think? Does Sears stand a chance against Amazon, Netflix, and the like? More →
A report filed by the Wall Street Journal indicates that Google, Inc. will be opening an online eBook store in the near future. Scott Dougall, a Google product director, told The Journal that the new store “is set to debut in the U.S. by the end of the year and internationally in the first quarter of next year.” Independent booksellers around the U.S. are expected to play a fairly large roll in Google’s eBook ecosystem. As the WSJ reports: “Users will be able to buy books directly from Google or from multiple online retailers—including independent bookstores—and add them to an online library tied to a Google account. They will be able to access their Google accounts on most devices with a Web browser, including personal computers, smartphones and tablets.” The Google model heavily contrasts that of digital reading devices like the Amazon Kindle; the Kindle requires you to purchase books from Amazon’s store in the Kindle format.
Google Editions would also have a revenue-sharing model for third parties. Websites and blogs that talk about a particular book could link its readers to Google Editions to purchase the title and share in Google’s cut of the sale. Proponents of the service say it will provide authors an opportunity to sell their work anytime it is discussed on the internet.
Google’s passion for books is not new news by any means. The company has publicly stated its desire to scan all the world’s books (~150 million) into digital format and make the contents of the digital library available to its search engine users. More →
Yesterday, there were internet rumors aplenty after Apple posted a cryptic message about iTunes on its homepage, and today, we have to wonder no more. After a long holdout, it looks as though the music catalog of Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Star, and George Harrison — better known as The Beatles — will be available for download from the iTunes Music Store.
It is a fairly well-known fact that Apple’s CEO, Steve Jobs, has a soft-spot for the gang from Liverpool and has been actively trying to get the group’s music on his company’s digital music store for some time. Multiple publications have cited pricing disagreements between Apple, Inc., Apple Corp (the band’s holding company), and record label EMI as the reason for the deal’s delay.
The Beatles’ appearance on iTunes will mark the first time the group has made its work legally available in a digital, downloadable format. Albums will retail for $12.99 and the band’s entire box set can be purchased for $149. More →
Before the invention of the internets, information was a hot commodity. If you needed to acquire information on an unknown or obscure topic there were several options at your disposal: the public library, that eccentric uncle who always knew the strangest things, and… encyclopedias. Hell, if you’re old enough you might even remember encyclopedia salesman going door-to-door hawking the novels of knowledge to you or your parents. Well, if you’re a shade too old for the days of the encyclopedia salesman, and Wikipedia wasn’t around when you were an undergrad, you’re definitely a going to remember Microsoft Encarta. More →