Spotify said Thursday that it now serves more than 3 million active paid subscribers per month, up from the 2.5 million subscribers it was serving in November. More than 20% of its active users pay for premium monthly access, the Financial Times said, which allows users to listen to an unlimited songs without ads or use Spotify on a smartphone. “We have achieved some pretty great results in terms of the ratio of paid users,” Spotify’s chief content officer and US managing director, Ken Parks said in an interview with the Financial Times. “We have an enormous internal effort to drive conversion and engagement with the service. We are very focused on growing in our existing 12 markets as well as expanding in other markets.” Parks also said that the company’s free-trial offer has helped convert users to paid accounts more rapidly. Spotify recently introduced “apps” for its service, which allows anyone, such as Rolling Stone or Billboard, to create playlists or add custom features. More →
Research In Motion announced on Wednesday that its BBM Music service will launch Wednesday in the United States, Canada and Australia. To begin, users can opt to sign up for a BBM Music Premium membership, which will allow them to access music and share with friends on their BBM contact lists. BBM Music Premium members will be able to select 50 initial songs from a library of millions. Members will then be able to view and play the 50 songs selected by other BBM Music Premium members in their contact list. A premium membership costs $4.99 per month after a free two-month trial. The free version of BBM Music only allows users to listen to 30-second previews of each song. RIM said the application will be available for download from the BlackBerry App World within the next before Thursday morning. More →
After disagreements over new contracts, 45,000 Verizon workers, or roughly 25% of the company’s workforce, went on strike on August 7th. The Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers refuse to pay a $100 monthly premium on their health benefits and do not agree with other contract terms, but now they may have no benefits at all. Verizon is threatening to pull all health benefits from any employees who are still striking on August 31st. Verizon has already filed a lawsuit against the Communications Workers of America accusing the union of harassment and sabotage, and it has been granted injunctions against picketers in New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The unions aren’t happy: “We feel the company is exercising any means possible to make our members suffer in hopes of breaking our units,” president of CWA Local 2204 Chuck Simpson told reporters. Formal talks between the workers and Verizon are ongoing, and Verizon said it sent letters out to give strikers enough time to find alternative benefits.
Spotify, the trendy music on demand service that has garnered tremendous media attention in Europe, has finally launched in the U.S. as rumored last week. Spotify announced earlier this month that it would become available in the U.S. “soon,” though open negotiations with Warner Music Group were reportedly preventing the company from setting a firm launch date. Apparently Warner finally came around. The Spotify service lets users stream unlimited music on demand, and also build and share playlists. For the time being, the free ad-supported version of Spotify that allows streaming to Windows and OS X PCs only is available as an invite-only service in the U.S. Those who don’t want to wait, however, can pay: a premium $9.99 per month subscription will let users stream ad-free music to mobile devices, share playlists and cache music for offline playback. A $4.99 intermediate plan will remove ads from the stream, but it doesn’t support streaming to the company’s mobile apps, which are already available for iOS devices in the App Store and for Android devices in the Android Market. A nifty little intro video can be seen below along with Spotify’s full press release. More →
Sony’s Music Unlimited service powered by Qriocity is now available for Android smartphones. The service originally made its debut in Europe back in December 2010 and launched in the United States this past January. The Music Unlimited for Android app comes with a 30-day free trial, granting users access to more than 7 million songs that can be synced from a PC. After the 30-day trial users will have to plop down $3.99 or $9.99 per month for the basic or full blown premium services, respectively. As you may assume, the service requires that you create a Qriocity account, or use an existing account. That has us a bit wary to give the app a whirl ourselves, given Sony’s recent massive security breach — although, to its credit, the firm did say that it’s ramping up security its measures. Music Unlimited is available for phones running Android 2.1 to 2.3.3 from the Android Market now. More →
CBS-owned Last.fm announced on Monday that it will soon discontinue its free ad-supported streaming music service for cell phones and home entertainment devices. Last.fm is a custom Internet radio service that competes with the likes of Pandora and Slacker Radio. The service currently streams to computers, to cell phones and to various home entertainment devices such as DVD players and set-top boxes, with two available subscription models — a free ad-supported version and an ad-free version for $3 per month. As of February 15th, free streaming to mobile devices and to home entertainment devices will be shut off, with the exception of Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7 devices, and only paid subscribers will be able to utilize the service. Delivering ad-supported streaming services to mobile and other non-PC devices is not practical, Last.fm stated in a blog post, so the company will no longer offer the option. Free ad-supported streaming to Last.fm’s website will remain, however, as will free streaming to the Last.fm desktop PC app. The shift in strategy now creates a new speed bump for the service, as Last.fm’s biggest competitors will continue to offer free streaming options for mobile and other devices. More →
BGR has obtained a memo being sent around to third-party Sprint retailers that sheds a bit more light on the company’s recently announced $10 Premium Data fee. The fee will be applied on all lines that upgrade to or activate a new smartphone after January 30th. The $10 tariff will apply to all individual lines and all family plan lines — so three smartphones on a family plan using equals an extra $30 per month. The memo states that the move will allow Sprint to “offer simple and affordable unlimited data plans” while “maintaining a wireless network able to meet the growing appetite for mobile data.” The only customers exempt from the new fee will be those customers tied to select corporate accounts. Hit the jump for the full memo and make sure to sound off in the comments!
Thanks, Tony! More →
Last month, we told you about Bell Mobility’s plans to charge a $10 premium for access to the highest speeds on its HSPA+ network. This month, it looks like that report is becoming a reality. BGR has obtained a memo that indicates that Bell will launch the Novatel Wireless U547 data stick — capable of 42Mbps speeds — on November 23rd. The memo boasts that the U547 will be able to achieve real-world downlinks ranging from 7Mbps to 14Mbps in select markets; at launch, Toronto will be the only market with 43Mbps HSPA+ coverage. The new data stick will retail for $199.95; the memo did not indicate if there would be subsidized pricing.
Like all good things, the new, higher speeds will not come free of charge. Bell will be taxing U547 users an extra $10 per month to access the face-melting speeds, but said users are not required to purchase the add-on; the device will still operate at 21Mbps without it.
There you have it. Let us know what you think.
We’re not sure if we should blame U.S. wireless carrier Sprint for coming up with this idea, or Bell Canada for running with it. BGR has just obtained a memo that indicates Bell customers will have to fork over a $10 per month premium for access to the company’s HSPA+ wireless network. The memo seems to indicate that the first set of devices to succumb to this fate will be a “Turbo Stick” and “Turbo Hub”; the memo is vague enough (mentioning “high speed devices”) that it could include smartphones. This may be the unfortunate reality we’re all going to have to deal with as carriers go to 4G; or in this case “4G.” If you’re a Bell customer, feel free to sound off and let us know what you think.
When Dell first revealed to the world it would be introducing a premium laptop line dubbed Adamo, we had pretty high expectations. Metal cases, lightning-fast processors supported by gobs of RAM and so on. When the announcement of Dell’s first Adamo laptop finally came, we have to say we were a bit underwhelmed — the premium price tag and fantastic build both are there, but the specs are basically on par with a laptop circa 2002. Next up, Samsung’s new “premium netbook” announced this morning. Gearing up for a global release including North America, the N310 weighs in at just 2.71 pounds and sports an Intel Atom processor of unknown speed. Notables include a 10.1-inch LCD display, 160GB hard drive, 5 hours of battery life, integrated 802.11b/g and Bluetooth with optional HSPA and WiBro, 1.3 megapixel webcam, three USB ports and a case design that only a mother could love. Yep… Sounds like a netbook. So this leads us to the question, has the term “premium” completely lost its meaning in the tech world as it has elsewhere? Perhaps it’s just another marketing term now as it is within other industries. We just hope Samsung doesn’t announce the freshly-leaked U490 as the “Trance Premium”.