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.
Spotify announced on Monday that it will hold a press conference on November 30th in New York City during which the company’s CEO Daniel Ek, and “special guests,” will discuss “what’s next” for the company. It’s entirely unclear what the event might cover, given the service only recently launched this summer in the United States. It is possible the Spotify will announce an iPad application, although that might be too minor an event to warrant a press conference. Perhaps the company will introduce a music store to go head-to-head with iTunes and Google Music, but we haven’t heard any rumors suggesting that might be a possibility.
More money is being spent purchasing music online than ever before according to a new report from Gartner. The firm’s data suggests that consumer spending on online music will reach $6.3 billion this year, up from $5.9 billion in 2010. “As consumers opt for connected devices — media tablets, smartphones and connected media players — across world regions, their desire for access to and consumption of music and content is growing as well,” Gartner research vice president Mike McGuire said. “The primary stakeholders in the music industry are facing wrenching changes and a somewhat uncertain future. However, the next four to five years portend solid growth.” Read on for more. More →
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.
Microsoft will lower its Zune Music Pass from $14.99 per month to $9.99 per month beginning on October 3rd alongside the service’s launch in Canada. The service will now be priced in line with Spotify and similar services. Microsoft’s Zune Marketplace is home to 14 million songs and a Zune Music Pass subscription provides unlimited streaming access to the music. Unlike other services, Zune Music Pass allows subscribers to keep 10 songs per month. Microsoft’s move is no doubt an effort to attract customers who might otherwise but attempted to join a number of competing music subscription options including Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and even Apple’s upcoming iCloud service. Zune Music Pass subscribers can access their playlists and library from any Windows Phone, a PC or from an Xbox 360 console. More →
Former renegade peer-to-peer file sharing service Kazaa is back from the dead. After numerous legal battles and settlements that reportedly reached into the hundreds of millions, Kazaa will attempt one last time to use what little heat surrounding its name is left in an effort to sell music. The firm now offers a like-named iPhone and iPad app that works just like Spotify, Rhapsody, Zune and the plethora of other music subscription services on the market today: pay $10 per month, stream as much music as you want, and store files locally if you choose. The apps touts a catalog of “millions and millions of songs,” and offers a free 7-day trial before the monthly fee is required. While seeing the Kazaa brand revived is amusing, we’re not sure what compelling argument Kazaa makes to draw users away from competitors, and we’ll likely stick with Spotify as a result. More →
Facebook will launch a music service on September 22nd, CNBC reported today. There are currently no details on whether it will be a streaming subscription service or simply a music storefront similar to iTunes, and Facebook has not yet confirmed the announcement. Business Insider said the Facebook music service will integrate with other third party services such as Spotify and Rdio. CNBC also suggested Facebook will work with MOG, another music service that has a long-standing relationship with Facebook. Spotify and Rdio currently allow users to integrate with social networks to share songs and playlists with friends. More →
Sony Ericsson on Monday unveiled its latest Android smartphone, dubbed “Live with Walkman.” With a name almost as catchy as Nokia’s failed “Comes with Music” offering, the new Live with Walkman smartphone is powered by Google’s Android 2.3 Gingerbread operating system and a 1GHz processor. Other spec highlights include a 3.2-inch touchscreen display, a 5-megapixel camera, Sony’s xLOUD audio and a Walkman music experience featuring integration with various social networks. “Consumers want smartphones to deliver a rich and social entertainment experience. Rather than a one dimensional music experience, they want instant and seamless access to new content, combined with the ability to share and connect with their friends,” said Sony Ericsson’s head of product marketing Nikolaus Scheurer in a statement. “The Sony Ericsson Live with Walkman provides exactly this, in a powerful package with great style.” Sony Ericsson’s full press release follows below. More →
Research In Motion is working on a music service that will tie in with BlackBerry Messenger. CNET reports that RIM will deploy a test version of its subscription-based streaming music service in the coming weeks, and that a final product will come later. BlackBerry owners will be able to share their songs with other subscribers using RIM’s BBM service, the report suggests. It’s unclear how much the BlackBerry maker plans to charge, but The Wall Street Journal said it will cost “significantly less” than similar services such as Rhapsody and Spotify, which both charge about $10 per month for premium access. RIM has already inked deals with Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, EMI and Universal Music to provide the content, according to reports. More →
Sonos released a new sibling in their audio lineup recently, and it’s called the PLAY:3. You can think of it as a smaller PLAY:5 (what used to be called the S5), and it is definitely up to par with the level of quality that Sonos is known for. There isn’t an actual subwoofer, rather a tweeter and a couple mid-range speakers, though the unit does offer decent bass and low-end performance. You can also create a stereo pair with two PLAY:3 units if you’d like, using one for a left channel and one for the right channel to fill your entire room with audio. The fact you can add all kinds of music services like Spotify, Pandora, Napster, Rhapsody, Rdio, Last.fm, iheartradio and many more, including your local iTunes library, is straight up mind blowing — all your music in true Sonos fashion is at your fingertips, and it just works. At $299, the PLAY:3 makes jumping into a Sonos setup relatively inexpensive, and a setup consisting of a few PLAY:3 units and PLAY:5 units can really create the perfect music listening experience in your home.
Apple’s upcoming “iTunes Replay” service is indeed in the works, but the company has yet to sign “cloud agreements” with at least four of the top-six film studios in Hollywood that are necessary in order to launch the service, CNET News reports. As such, the site calls earlier reports that suggested an imminent launch premature. Apple is reportedly working on a service that will allow iTunes users to stream and re-download movies purchased through iTunes. Such a service would require Apple to sign new licensing agreements with motion picture studios in order to secure the appropriate rights that would allow Apple to serve content from the cloud and to multiple devices. According to CNET News, negotiations for these rights could “drag on for months.” The report also mentions a possible hurdle for Apple: HBO. HBO has agreements in place that grant it exclusive digital distribution rights to new movies from three of the six major film studios — 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. — for a certain period of time. HBO’s deals have caused problems for streaming services in the past, and it looks like Apple could be the latest victim. More →
Amazon’s manufacturing partner is expected to ship as many as 3 million tablets for the online retail giant this quarter, Taiwan Economic News reports. BGR exclusively reported this past May that Amazon is currently prepping two tablets for launch, a low-end dual-core “Coyote” and a high-end quad-core “Hollywood.” The former is expected to hit the market first and Amazon is preparing to make quite a splash, as it reportedly has ordered between 800,000 and 1 million units each month this quarter from manufacturing partner Quanta Computer. The new order estimates are up from the 700,000 – 800,000 units reported in May by DigiTimes. Foxconn is said to have landed the contract to manufacture Amazon’s high-end 10.1-inch “Hollywood” tablet, which is expected to start shipping next year. More →