The past year was a good year for the music industry as sales rose to their best highest point in eight years. According to the IFPI’s annual Recording Industry In Numbers report, revenue from physical media fell by 8.7%, compared with 13.8% in 2010, but were vinyl sales up nearly 29%. Digital revenue continued to grow, increasing 8%, compared to 5.6% in 2010, with digital track sales growing 19% to 3.7 billion songs. Australia leads the way in the digital space with 60% growth, compared with 8% growth in the U.S. and 10% in the U.K. $1.27 billion in digital singles were sold in the U.S., while the U.K. accounted for $176.2 million. Digital sales made up 31% of the total revenue of the music market and reached $5.3 billion in sales. Overall global music revenue fell by just 3% in the last year, however. “2011 marked the least negative result in global recorded music sales since 2004, when revenues were flat,” the report read. The IFPI credits services like Spotify, iTunes, and unlimited-access operators like Rdio, MOG and Rhapsody for bringing new revenue models to customers that have helped the U.S. music market. More →
Three separate lawsuits have been filed in China on behalf of 12 writers who claim Apple is selling unlicensed versions of their works in its iBookstore. Apple is accused of selling 59 unlicensed works in total, and the three suits seek a combined $3.5 million in damages. Apple has not denied the allegations, though the company did say that it responds to intellectual property complaints quickly. “As an IP holder ourselves, we understand the importance of protecting intellectual property and when we receive complaints we respond promptly and appropriately,” Beijing-based Apple spokeswoman Carolyn Wu told the Associated Press. Wang Guohua, a lawyer representing the group of writers, said Apple violated copyright laws by making the books available for purchase without securing the necessary licenses. Wang also said that while some titles were removed after lawsuits were filed in January, many have been uploaded to Apple’s digital store again and Apple has not taken the appropriate measures to prevent the pirated books from being sold. “Some developers, with whom Apple has contracts, put them back online again,” he said. “It is encouragement in disguise, because they did not punish the developers. The developers could have been kicked out. But nothing happened to them.” More →
Apple’s rumored iOS-powered high-definition television will enter production in May or June ahead of a launch slated for the fourth quarter this year, one analyst claims. Jefferies & Company analyst Peter Misek met with unnamed sources during a recent trip to the East, and he now believes Apple’s “iTV” is a sure thing. “Specialty components have begun to ship to Apple’s Asia panel suppliers with polarized films, filters, and IGZO components starting to move in small quantities,” the analyst wrote in a note to investors Tuesday morning. “We expect commercial production in May/ June with 2M to 5M builds likely. We still expect a CQ4 launch.” Apple’s HDTV has been rumored for quite some time, and it is expected to feature unique voice controls powered by Siri. Apple’s is also reportedly working on a subscription offering that will treat TV channels like apps and allow users to subscribe to individual channels or bundles of channels a la carte.
Apple on Tuesday was granted a significant patent by the United States Trademark & Patent Office, Patently Apple reported. The technology, which is supported by 23 Patent Claims, allows credit card companies to send statements directly to a user’s iTunes account for purchases made using an NFC-enabled iPhone. Account holders will also be able to allow a secondary account holder, such as a child, to make purchases on the same card while allowing the primary account holder to control spending and implement various limits. Even though NFC technology has been featured in a number of Android devices, some believe that the technology won’t go mainstream in a number of markets until an iPhone is equipped with a mobile payment solution. More →
Apple has plans to launch a subscription television service by Christmas this year, according to a recent report from the New York Post. The paper states that Apple wants the service to treat channels like apps, allowing the user to purchase subscriptions for either individual channels or groups of channels a la carte. Apple has long been rumored to be pitching the service to top media executives, but according to the Post, the negotiations are not going well. Eddie Cue is reportedly leading the talks and content providers have seemingly not been partial to his propositions. Apple’s pitch can be summed up as “we decide the price, we decide what content,” one of the Post’s sources said. “They want everything for nothing,” said another. Apple apparently plans to launch some form of its TV service by the end of the year with or without full cooperation from the networks, and the service is expected to be available on Apple TV as well as the new iOS-powered HDTV Apple will reportedly launch later this year. More →
Apple has hired a former marketing executive from Microsoft to help promote the App Store and iTunes in Europe, MCV reports. Robin Burrowes, former head of Xbox LIVE marketing in the EMEA region for Microsoft, joined Apple in January according to his LinkedIn profile. His formal duties at Apple remain unclear — Burrowes’s profile only states that his role involves “App Store Marketing” — but the executive’s background suggests gaming will be a strong focus. Apple has hired a number of executives with experience in the gaming market recently, including Nintendo’s former head of public relations Robert Saunders and former Activision, EA and Xbox PR head Nick Grange. The video game industry finds itself among a number of businesses that have been disrupted by Apple’s iOS lineup, and the company’s recent hires suggest that Apple intends to continue pushing the gaming capabilities of its mobile device lineup. More →
Ed McLaughlin, MasterCard’s head of emerging payments, sat down with Austin Carr of Fast Company to discuss the future of credit cards. “We’re rapidly moving to a world beyond plastic,” said McLaughlin. “In many ways, plastic is just convenient packaging.” The future of on-the-go payments may lie in the hands of near-field communication but unfortunately, adoption and availability have been extremely slow and limited. While NFC technology has been featured in a number of Android devices, MasterCard seems to think it won’t go mainstream until an iPhone is equipped with the mobile payment solution. Read on for more. More →
Apple on Thursday released an updated version of its iTunes software following a series of announcements made during the company’s press conference in New York City. The Cupertino, California-based firm unveiled its new interactive iPad textbook product alongside iBooks 2 Thursday morning, and it also took the wraps off of an updated iTunes U service that includes new tools for teachers and a new iPad app. To accommodate Apple’s new features, the company also pushed out iTunes 10.5.3, which is available for download immediately. Apple’s official change log follows below. More →
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 →
Apple’s design boss Jonathan Ive is reportedly hard at work on two models of Apple’s upcoming “iTV,” a new report claimed on Wednesday. Earlier rumors suggested that Apple is preparing to launch 32 and 37-inch HDTVs this summer, but USA Today cites an anonymous former Apple employee in stating Apple is prepping a 42-inch model and a 50-inch model. The report also reaffirms a number of previously reported iTV features such as Siri-powered controls, iOS app support, AirPlay, iCloud support and deep iTunes integration. USA Today also notes that stalled negotiations with content providers within the TV industry are a “major roadblock” for Apple. A la carte availability of top-tier TV shows is said to be a key to the success of Apple’s HDTV, but Apple has reportedly been unable to secure the licensing agreements it would need to offer content using its desired distribution model. “I do expect Apple to make an attempt, since I expect the living room to remain a center for family entertainment, and that touches on all areas of consumer products that Apple is already making,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told USA Today. More →
Until recently, iTunes users were able to purchase episodes of television shows a-la-carte or buy a whole season outright. The problem was, however, a user still had to pay full price for a television season even if he or she already owned a few individual episodes. Apple has reportedly fixed that problem by adding a “Complete my season” button that functions just like the “Complete my album” button in the iTunes Music Store. That means, for example, if you’ve purchased nine episodes of Family Guy and want to own the entire first season, you can buy it at a discounted rate that takes your previous purchases into consideration. The feature should be live now, according to MacRumors. More →
Apple on Monday released a new update for its iTunes software. ITunes 10.5.2 adds a number of enhancements for iTunes Match, and it includes several additional updates and bug fixes. “iTunes 10.5.2 includes several improvements for iTunes Match and fixes an audio distortion problem when playing or importing certain CDs,” Apple said in a note with the update. Users can update their iTunes software by downloading version 10.5.2 from Apple’s website or by using the integrated software update tool. Apple’s full release notes follow below. More →
Apple has finally released iTunes 10.5.1 to the public after months of internal and developer testing. Besides bug fixes, the big change that iTunes 10.5.1 brings is support for iTunes Match, Apple’s cloud-based music storage service that will allow your entire music library, purchased from Apple or not, to be accessible from all your computers and iOS devices for a yearly fee. There’s a good chance that after missing the October launch time frame, Apple will make iTunes Match available today.
UPDATE: Yep, iTunes Match is now available.