On Wednesday, Android head Andy Rubin said that Google’s Music Store will offer a special “twist” that will separate it from its competitors. Speaking to Business Insider, an anonymous record industry source said the “twist” is that Google Music users will be able to share songs with other users “on a limited basis.” Reportedly, the catch is that users will need to purchase the song first and friends will only be able to listen to the track for a limited amount of time. The service reminds us a lot of Spotify, which allows users to share tracks with one another for free. However, the free version of Spotify requires a user to listen to an occasional advertisement unless they sign up for one of two monthly subscription options. It is unclear when Google will launch its Music Store, but rumors have suggested it could make its debut this quarter. More →
Google will announce and launch its own music store this quarter, Business Insider said recently. The company revealed its Music beta service in May, which allows users to store up to 20,000 songs in the cloud, but now users will be able to purchase and download tracks, too. Google is reportedly already in negotiations with the major music labels and The New York Times recently reported that the service will launch in the “next several weeks.” Record labels, however, are worried that Google’s cloud storage option could kindle, not stifle, music piracy. “We want to make sure the locker doesn’t become a bastion of piracy,” one executive told The New York Times. If Google introduces a music store it will compete directly with third-party music apps, such as the Amazon MP3 store, on Android smartphones and tablets. Perhaps we’ll hear more on the topic during the joint Samsung/Google Ice Cream Sandwich press conference on October 18th.
Unlike Amazon and Google who launched half-baked cloud storage services for music, it’s going to be Apple that shows the world how something is done properly once again, it seems. According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple has finally struck deals with the four major recording companies in addition to movie studios:
Apple Inc. has reached terms with major recorded-music companies to allow it to launch a digital locker service that would be more robust than those currently offered by Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.
According to these people, deals with three labels have been completed, and the fourth, with Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, is likely to be signed this week. Apple has signed deals with Warner Music Group Corp., Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment and EMI Group Ltd.
Add that on to a CNET report that Apple executives were all over film studios for more than a year, and it sure looks like iCloud won’t be just a simple MP3 locker, but a robust service that combines all kinds of multimedia, and most likely, social and location-aware elements as well, tied tightly into iOS 5. More →
Android is planning to release an “entire family” of Android-powered devices, not just one tablet as originally thought, according to Android and Me. The rumor hasn’t specified whether or not Amazon is planning multiple sized tablets, or a tablet and a new Android-powered eReader, although there’s some speculation that a smartphone could be in the works too. It’s no secret that the company is working on at least one tablet. Earlier this week Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, said “stay tuned” for more information on the product, which is rumored to have been manufactured by Samsung and could launch as early as this summer. However, Android and Me disputes those claims and believes the devices will land closer to the holiday season. Either way, it certainly makes sense for at least one Amazon tablet to exist: the firm has already launched its Unbox movie and TV streaming service, Amazon’s Cloud Player and Cloud Drive for music and data storage, and Kindle for books, all of which fit perfectly on a tablet. More →
Apple’s next-generation iPod nano may ditch the clip design and instead feature a 1.3-megapixel camera, according to leaked images posted by Taiwanese blog Apple.pro. The overall design of the unit looks similar to the current iPod nano, although there’s a chrome border around the new camera and the metal exterior has a noticeably deeper green hue, which suggests new colors are on the way. We’re a bit surprised at the lack of a clip on the nano, though, as most people we’ve seen with the music player use it — so perhaps it’s possible the clip can be removed to expose the camera lens. Either way, the form factor definitely matches earlier leaks of the next-generation iPod nano. More →
Amazon’s Cloud Player, which provides access to music stored on your Amazon Cloud Drive, is now working in Safari on iOS devices including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. Amazon hasn’t announced the support just yet, but if you navigate to your Amazon Cloud Player account from an iOS device — and ignore a few warnings about your device not being supported — you’ll be able to access and play all of your tunes. As TechCrunch first spotted, your music will also pause if you receive a phone call or a push notification. Amazon has only recognized full support through computers and on Android smartphones, so there may still be a few bugs to be found. We’re hoping there’s a native iOS app in the works, too, but we won’t hold our breath just yet. More →
Record labels seem to have a hard time understanding one, simple truth: after a consumer purchases a song — be it on a CD or digitally — the consumer owns that file. Period. It is, however, nice to know that at least one large corporation respects that fact, Amazon. In a letter penned to music labels, the online retail giant stated that its new Cloud Drive music service has boosted digital MP3 sales and goes on to explain why it does not need permission from record labels for its use. “There has been speculation that we are looking for licenses for Cloud Drive and Cloud Player,” reads the e-mail. “We are not looking for licenses for Cloud Drive or Cloud Player as they exist today — as no licensees are required.” Amazon continues, “Cloud Player is a media management and play-back application not unlike Windows Media Player and any number of other media management applications that let customers manage and play their music. It requires a license from content owners no more than those applications do. It really is that simple.” The company did mention that further improvements may require licensing, and that record labels can “expect to hear more” from Amazon on potential licensing “in the near future.” David Israeite of the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA) called the move “troubling,” and added that Amazon was not creating “an environment of trust and cooperation.” More →
Via a press release this morning, U.S. wireless carrier Sprint announced a new music service offering for its customers dubbed Sprint Music Plus. Powered by RealNetworks, the new service will allow users to purchase DRM-free, MP3 music tracks and ringtones starting at just $0.69. “Sprint Music Plus is available for Android powered Sprint smartphones from the Sprint Zone app and can be found on the home screen of BlackBerry and Java Feature Phones launched after May 2010,” reads the press release. “Devices introduced before May 2010 will have access to ringtones and ringback tones from Sprint Music Plus via Sprint Mobile Web (WAP).” The company notes that users will have the ability to bundle ringtones, ringback tones, and full music tracks into one purchase for additional savings, and, of course, all purchases will appear on your Sprint wireless bill. The full press release is after the break. More →
According to new third quarter figures issued by market research firm NPD Group, Apple’s iTunes music store now accounts for 66.2% of online music purchases, up from 63.2% in the same quarter last year. Apple’s biggest competitor in the space, Amazon, currently holds 13.3% of the market. Executives from major labels suggest the disparity could be even larger, with Amazon owning just 6% to 10% of the market while Apple’s share is nearly 90%. Pricing, often a major factor in retail sales, does not appear to have a major impact on digital music sales. Amazon’s strategy, beyond various distribution deals, is to undercut iTunes. Amazon’s average selling price for popular albums is significantly lower than the $9.99 to $14.99 Apple often charges, and even deeper discounts can be found regularly through promotions like “Daily Deals.” Despite Amazon’s best efforts, however, iTunes’ digital market share continues to grow and Apple’s service remains the global leader in music sales, having surpassed Walmart to take the No. 1 spot in 2008. More →
Today, RIM and Amazon.com launched Amazon MP3 for BlackBerry smartphones, giving BlackBerry smartphone users in the U.S. access to Amazon’s catalog of over 14 million songs. Amazon MP3 for BlackBerry smartphones allows users to browse, preview, download, store, and tell friends about their favorite music all at the touch of a fingertip.
Key features include:
- Download music via Wi-Fi or over the air (OTA)
- Browse by what’s new, deals, top songs, top albums, genres, and sub genres
- Check back every day for the Free Song of the Day and Daily Deal album
- Preview a 30-second sample before you buy
- Tell friends about your favorites via BBM, email, SMS, Socials Feeds, Facebook, and Twitter
- Bookmark a song and come back to it whenever you’re ready for a preview or download.
- Integrated with BlackBerry smartphone features and functions, including Universal Search and Media Library
Amazon MP3 for BlackBerry smartphones is available in beta for BlackBerry users in the U.S. on BlackBerry App World in the Test Center. For more information , please visit http://www.blackberry.com/amazonmp3. More →
A recent report filed by Reuters aims to shed some light on how online retail giant Amazon plans to commandeer market share of digital-music downloads from Apple’s iTunes Music Store. The current state of music downloads in the U.S. has AmazonMP3 with a 1.3% market share, while Apple’s iTunes holds a 26.7% share. To try and narrow this market gap, Amazon is doing what it does best: deep discounting. The online retailer’s Daily Deal has been a huge success in boosting sales. Recently, the company offered Kanye West’s new album — My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy — for $3.99 on its release date. Amazon reportedly sold 59,000 digital copies of the new album, while iTunes sold 163,000. The less than 3 to 1 gap in sales is notably impressive.
Not everyone thinks the strategy can succeed. A “senior major-label distribution executive” was quoted as saying, “Amazon is growing, but they are growing in millimeters,” and went on to speculate that the strategy “doesn’t seem scalable.”
Amazon does have a broader price advantage over Apple as new tracks sell for 99-cents on the company’s site; new tracks in iTunes sell for $1.29. Amazon also has 100 albums on-sale for $5 every month. What digital music store are you using?
Sprint has officially announced a maintenance-release software update for the Samsung Epic 4G; an update that was pseudo announced yesterday via a forum administrator. The details on the update are as follows:
9/30 – Samsung Epic Maintenance Release
- WiFi standby battery drain
- Amazon MP3 cannot download in 4G
- Large emails lag in upload speeds
- Increased 3G upload speeds
Update your software
- The software will be automatically downloaded to your phone since this is a recommended update.
- A System update screen will prompt the user to ‘Install now’ or ‘Install later’.
- If ‘Install later’ is selected, a reminder will be sent once or twice a day to install the update.
- If ‘Install now’ is selected, the phone will power down and then reboot.
- This update will take approximately 7-8 minutes to download and 7-8 minutes to install.
- The new software version is: S:D700.0.5S.DI18
- This update is available OTA (over the air) and will be pushed to your device. It is being pushed in stages, beginning on 9/30 12:00AM EST, and will be rolled out to users over several days.
- Your device must be on software version DI07 to perform the update to DI18. If you are still on DG17 or DG27, a Sprint Service and Repair Center should be able to update your device to DI07. The update from DI07 to DI18 is not yet available to the Service and Repair Centers. As soon as it is, this post will be updated.
Let us know when your Epic 4G gets the goods… and if it cures all that ails you. More →
Today, Roku and MP3tunes announced a partnership that will bring your iTunes music library to your television. MP3tunes, for those not familiar, is a company that provides “secure online music space” and features “unlimited listening.” The company’s website boasts, “With just a couple clicks, Locker users can sync their personal digital music and video up to ‘the cloud’ for enjoying from any web browser and a wide variety of mobile and home entertainment devices.” And starting today, you can add the Roku to that list. MP3 offers 10GB of storage for free — ad supported of course — with paid options all the way up to 200 GB. Hit the jump for the full press release. More →