Apple may be working on an overhaul of its iTunes Store and App Store, according to 9to5Mac. Due to growing competition from music streaming services like Spotify and the growing popularity of Amazon’s online music store, the redesign of the iTunes Store is considered “a top priority for Apple.” The Cupertino-based company is looking to simplify the service and deliver a more user-friendly interface than the one afforded by its current design. The redesign will reportedly simplify content discovery, and it will “make the iTunes Store a much more engaging experience.” The revamped stores are reportedly scheduled to launch later this year. More →
Though box office revenues declined for the second consecutive year in 2011, a new study suggests that there is little if any correlation between United States box office revenues and illegal file-sharing facilitated by BitTorrent. Major Hollywood studios have spent tremendous resources over the years fighting digital piracy, but the recent study conducted by researchers from the University of Minnesota and Wellesley College is the latest to suggest that illegal file-sharing services have less of an impact on movie sales than had previously been conveyed, at least where U.S. box office sales are concerned. While there is some evidence that suggests a link between BitTorrent and decreased international box office sales due to the delay between U.S. openings and international openings, no such connection could be made in the U.S. “We do not see evidence of elevated sales displacement in US box office revenue following the adoption of BitTorrent, and we suggest that delayed legal availability of the content abroad may drive the losses to piracy,” the researchers wrote. The team did not investigate the potential relationship between digital piracy and DVD sales or legal movie downloads.
Google is preparing to launch a new cloud storage service that will compete directly with popular start up Dropbox and similar services. The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday evening reported that Google is almost ready to announce the new service, which will be called Google Drive. Similar to Dropbox, which creates a virtual drive containing files that are mirrored on a user’s local hard drive and on cloud servers, Google Drive will allow users to store photos, videos, documents and other files in the cloud, and it will be accessible from computers as well as Android tablets and smartphones. The service will launch in the coming weeks according to the report, and it will be free to most users, though the report does not elaborate on the amount of free storage Google will provide or which customers might be charged. More →
The recent federal takedown of notorious file-sharing service Megaupload was initially seen as a huge victory for owners of copyrighted music and movies, but new research shows this may not be the case. Federal prosecutors successfully shuttered the service last month and arrested seven men associated with Megaupload including site founder Kim Dotcom, who is said to have earned $42 million from the site in 2010 alone. What was initially thought to be a victory for movie studios and record labels is turning out to be an empty win, however, as Megaupload’s closure has had almost no impact on file-sharing. Read on for more. More →
The debut season of Netflix’s first original series “Lilyhammer” is now available on demand to all Netflix “Watch Instantly” subscribers. All eight episodes of the series’ first season can be streamed beginning Tuesday, and the show is available in high definition. Lilyhammer is the first in a string of original content Netflix is working on in an effort to create an all-inclusive online-only network that will truly pose a real threat to traditional pay TV networks. The show features Steven Van Zandt of “The Sopranos” fame, who stars as a relocated New York City gangster trying to make a new life for himself in a small town in Norway. Netflix is working on more original content that will launch this year, including a new season of “Arrested Development” and “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey. More →
Sling Media has been the go-to provider for video placeshifting solutions for nearly seven years now. The California-based company launched its first Slingbox in 2005, enabling users to watch live television exactly as it was being broadcast to their homes on any Internet-connected PC. The company rolled out its first SlingPlayer Mobile application the following year and it hasn’t looked back, continuing to expand its mobile offering to support a wide range of popular platforms and devices. Sling Media will launch the latest addition to its mobile app lineup on Tuesday when it releases SlingPlayer Mobile for Amazon’s popular tablet, and we spent much of our weekend enjoying placeshifted live television on our Kindle Fire to test the new app. Check out a small gallery of screenshots below and hit the break for our early impressions of SlingPlayer Mobile for the Amazon Kindle Fire.More →
Federal prosecutors in Virginia have shut down notorious file-sharing site Megaupload.com and charged the service’s founders with violating piracy laws. The Associated Press broke the story on Thursday, reporting that the indictment accuses Megaupload.com’s owner with costing copyright holders including record labels and movie studios more than $500 million in lost revenue. Seven people tied to Megaupload.com have been charged and four are already in custody, including the site’s founder Kim Dotcom. Dotcom earned $42 million from the the site in 2010 according to the indictment. Megaupload.com allowed users to upload and share content without any measures in place to ensure files being hosted on the site’s servers were not protected by copyright. The company claims that it responded to copyright complaints as they were received. According to court documents made available on Thursday, Megaupload.com was at one point the 13th most trafficked website in the world. More →
Piracy is still a huge problem according to the music industry and Hollywood, and it’s hard to dispute the notion that downloading a paid digital product without actually paying for it is theft. Now, as TorrentFreak releases its list of the 10 most pirated movies of 2011, we can see a possible correlation between illegal downloads and movie revenue continue to take shape. Read on for more. 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 →
Amazon has been a leader in the eBook reader space since it first introduced the Kindle eReader in November 2007. At that point in time, the Kindle had a 6-inch E Ink display that supported just four shades of gray, it included 250MB of storage that could accommodate about 200 eBooks, and it retailed for $399. For the first six months or so, Amazon couldn’t keep the device in stock — it was a smash hit.
Following parent company Coinstar’s third-quarter earnings report, Redbox announced that daily DVD rental fees have increased to $1.20 from $1. “The price change is based on an increase in operating costs, including higher debit card fees that went into effect October 1,” Redbox said in a statement on its website. “This is the first time in eight years Redbox has raised our daily DVD rental price.” Redbox will continue to charge $1 for the first day of each DVD rental during a promotional period from October 31st through November 30th, though additional days will be charged at the new rate of $1.20 per night. Rates for Blu-ray ($1.50 per day) rentals and video game rentals ($2 per day) are not affected by this change. More →
Netflix subscribers can finally stream movies to their Android tablets without worrying about installing third-party .apks files or attempting annoying work-arounds. The company announced on Wednesday that its application now supports tablets running Android 3.x (Honeycomb). In addition, the Netflix app supports users in Canada and Latin America now. Netflix for Honeycomb is free, provided you already subscribe to the company’s “Watch Instantly” streaming service, and it is available in the Android Market now. More →
Apple is reportedly close to inking deals with major movie studios that would allow the Cupertino-based company to stream movies to its iOS devices and PCs via iCloud. Los Angeles Times on Wednesday reported that Apple has been meeting with movie studios and is currently closing licensing deals that will allow its customers to purchase movies through iTunes and then stream them from iCloud to mobile devices like the iPhone and iPad, or even to Mac computers or Apple TV. The service would be similar to Hollywood’s just-launched UltraViolet product, though it would remove the requirement that customers purchase physical media before streaming content to their devices. The LA Times report states that Apple is expected to launch the service in late 2011 or early 2012. More →