Google’s answer to iTunes, Spotify, Pandora and other popular digital music services may be in serious trouble. Reports surfaced last week suggesting Google Music wasn’t living up to expectations and now, according to music industry insider Wayne Rosso, the service may be in deeper trouble than initially thought. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” an unnamed digital music executive told Rosso. “It’s astounding. It’s hard to believe that with an install base of over 200 million Android handsets they’re actually losing customers.” The well-placed source explained to Rosso that Google Music is losing customers on a weekly basis, and that it has gotten to the point where record label executives are worried Google may discontinue the service. First launched this past November, Google Music is a music store and cloud-based digital locker combination that allows users to purchase or upload music, and then stream songs to any computer or Android-powered device. More →
Images of what is purported to be Google’s upcoming Android music store surfaced over the weekend, and they may reveal several details surrounding the upcoming music service Google is expected to unveil on Wednesday. Spanish-language blog TecnoDroidVe published a number of screenshots over the weekend, claiming that they depict an early version of Google’s Android music store. The store reportedly supports song previews, includes a featured artists section and provides music discovery via a similar artists feature. Google’s mobile music store will also seemingly sport a “Free Song of the Day” page that will allow users to download one free track each day, and a “Free Songs” section populated with no-fee song downloads. Google is rumored to have signed deals with only two major record labels thus far, and it may be forced to launch its new service without the support of one or more labels. More →
Apple has now reportedly signed three of four major U.S. record labels as it prepares to launch a new cloud-based streaming music service in the near future. According to Bloomberg, Apple has inked a deal with Sony that will allow the label’s massive catalog to be used alongside a forthcoming streaming product Apple will likely unveil next month. The news comes just one day after Apple is said to have finalized a similar deal with EMI. Google recently unveiled its Music Beta by Google service and before that, Amazon launched its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player products. Neither service is accompanied by deals with record labels, however, so their utility is reduced to providing users with a means to upload music they have purchased elsewhere and then stream it to a variety of devices. With the support of major labels, Apple will be able to introduce a paid service with a great deal of added functionality. “Streaming iTunes” has been rumored to be in development for years, and it looks like Apple is finally ready to make it a reality. More →
We received word from a tipster that Amazon, practically confirmed to be entering the tablet market in the near future, isn’t planning just one device, but is planning on releasing at least two before the end of the year. Information is light, but we have been told that the “entry” level tablet, codenamed “Coyote” will be based on the NVIDIA Tegra 2 platform. The big boy? That’s codenamed “Hollywood” and will be based on the NVIDIA T30 “Kal-El” which will bring a screaming quad-core processor with a 500% performance increase over the dual-core Tegra 2. No word on screen sizes at this point, and we’re digging for more information, so stay tuned!
In an interview with Forbes on Thursday, HTC’s head of User Experience Drew Bamford provided some insight into where the company’s Sense product is headed in the near future. Sense started as a UI overlay placed atop various platforms on HTC devices. While the UI aspects of the product remain a central focus, HTC will continue to expand Sense in several areas off the device. The recently launched HTCSense.com portal is one example of Sense’s departure from phones, though it remains underutilized and confined to just two devices for the time being. Bramford says several services are on their way to Sense, however, including music and video content services as well as access to newspapers, magazines and eBooks. HTC already launched an eBook service in Europe that it plans to expand to other regions in 2011. HTC also plans to launch its own video chat service akin to Apple’s FaceTime, along with several services that focus on home entertainment. These and other services will be made possible by the continued transition to faster 4G cellular data networks. “At some point, you can imagine replacing your home Internet service with your 4G phone,” Bramford said. “I think we’re on the cusp of that transformation where mobile products and living room life collide.” 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 →
A new report Thursday suggests that legendary piracy pioneer LimeWire may soon call it quits. LimeWire was hardly the first network of its kind, but along with services like Kazaa, LimeWire played a major role in bringing file-sharing to the masses. This past October, LimeWire was forced to shutter its file-sharing service following a court order. Now, the company’s recent attempts to jump from seedy to sanctioned appear to be for naught. According to an alleged email to vendors obtained by All Things Digital, LimeWire will soon cease its attempts to run a legitimate online music store. The site also stopped accepting payments for its current offering according to a note on its homepage. LimeWire has supposedly been working on a new legal music service for the better part of 2010, but those plans are nixed as well. From the look of things, LimeWire will be no more as of January 1st, 2011. Hit the break for a copy of the company’s email to its partners. More →
As if Google-owned YouTube wasn’t making enough money in ad revenue, they’ve decided to start peddling music and games for a little monetary boost. For now, it’s an experimental project and they’ll be attempting to sell music, videos, TV shows… wait, iTunes, anyone? Actually, it seems YouTube will be partner with iTunes and Amazon so that YouTube users will be able to clink on links that will take them directly to the iTunes or Amazon store where they can purchase all those goodies including video games and e-books. Google acquired YouTube back in October of ’06 and ever since, investors have been haggling Google about making some real money off the broadcast-yourself-site. So far, the majority of revenue comes from advertising and we all know how annoying that can get – especially since they’ve been throwing up those pop up ads that come on during videos. Pre-roll ads, the ads that play for 10 to 30 seconds before a video starts, have also been considered but they’re holding back as a last resort (those are the most painfully annoying thus far). We’ll see where this goes and if it takes off and hope it removes some of the more annoying ads from YouTube.
These days, it seems having your own music store or app store is all the rage. Sony Ericsson wants in on the party and is going to release its own music store in just a few weeks. The only problem is SE’s new Play Now Plus (the music store, duh) is only going to be released in Sweden with planned expansion for most of Western Europe in the first quarter of 2009 and the rest of the world during the second quarter. That means we still have time and perhaps other music stores, such as iTunes and Amazon’s new music store for the G1, will take off and give SE a hard time catching up. However, the idea is to compete with Nokia’s all-you-can-eat Comes with Music plan and launches October 17 in Great Britain. We’d say keep an eye out for these services but with the mobile music market saturated as it is, these might just slip under the radar and fade into oblivion.
Thanks, Jon P!