Google announced and launched its Music Beta service on Tuesday, and record execs aren’t too pleased with its decision to move ahead before reaching a deal. “People are pissed,” one record label exec told Hollywood Reporter, which explained in one article why it took so long for Google and the music industry to reach an agreement. Reportedly, Google offered some labels larger advances than others, which resulted in some firms holding out for more money. Similarly, the music industry is concerned that Music Beta users will upload music stolen from P2P sites — that the industry already wants removed from Google’s search results — to Google’s music storage locker. Lastly, the recording industry was concerned that Google’s music service could weaken the revenue stream from other sources, such as Apple’s iTunes. Ultimately, driven by competition from Amazon’s Cloud Drive, Google decided to pull the trigger and launch anyway. More →
After years of waiting from BlackBerry users, the ultimate BlackBerry has finally been made official. We broke the story on the next generation BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930, and we even spent some one-on-one time with it, but there is nothing like an official announcement, right? As far as specs, it’s everything we reported it would be — 1.2GHz processor, 2.8-inch capacitive touchscreen, full QWERTY keyboard, 5 megapixel camera with 720p HD video recording, 8GB of onboard storage, and more. As far as availability, RIM said that the new BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930 will be available from “carriers around the world” starting this summer. We’re hearing June / July still. Entire press release is after the break. More →
Following up on a rumor from yesterday, Digital Daily‘s John Paczkowski has confirmed that Apple has purchased the domain name icloud.com — henceforth to be known as iCloud, we’re sure. “Sources in a position to know” confirmed to the publication that Swedish company Xcerion has sold the domain to Apple, although they could not confirm that the Cupertino-based company paid $4.5 million for it as was reported yesterday. Apple is widely expected to launch a cloud-based service in the very near future. More →
According to the latest Internet rumor, Apple’s presumed cloud-based service may be getting a familiar moniker. Blog GigaOM is reporting that the Cupertino company has purchased the domain name iCloud.com from Swedish company Xcerion. We wouldn’t be surprised if the rumor turned out to be true, Apple has had a love affair with the vowel “i” since the early 1990′s, although, as TechCrunch points out, the iPad was thought to be called the iSlate at one point. The report states that Apple paid $4.5 million for the domain name, and states that Xcerion recently re-branded its service’s name from iCloud to CloudMe. Apple did not respond to the site’s request for comment. More →
Today’s one of those days when we wish we lived in South Korea. Samsung’s hot new Galaxy S II — which packs a dual-core Orion CPU, an 8 megapixel camera, a 4.27-inch Super AMOLED Plus touchscreen, and more — hits the South Korean market on all three of the country’s wireless carriers. Samsung shipped more than 14 million of the first generation Galaxy S devices, and it hopes to sell at least 10 million Galaxy S II handsets as the device makes its debut in 120 countries and on 140 different carriers in the coming months. “We expect sales to be as good as the Galaxy S,” Shin Jong-Kyun, president of Samsung Mobile, told AFP. Unfortunately there’s no word if or when the Galaxy S II will hit the United States, but we wouldn’t be surprised to see it pop up given that the first generation was offered by each of the big-four carriers. More →
Might as well let other major mobile operating system manufacturers in on the location-tracking scandal fun, no? While Apple, and to a much lesser extent Google, have come under fire for their phone location storage practices, other major OS manufacturers have been silent. We’re not sure being the “squeaky wheel” would pay dividends in this instance. That hasn’t stopped the media from asking, however, and CNET posed the question to Microsoft: what do you track?
“Microsoft says its operating system transmits the MAC address of the Wi-Fi access point (but not the name), signal strength, a randomly generated unique device ID retained for an unspecified limited period of time, and, if GPS is turned on, the precise location and direction and speed of travel,” writes CNET. “That happens when the ‘application or user makes a request for location information,’ the company says.”
CNET has a laundry list of questions for Microsoft that remain unanswered. The current location brouhaha now has the attention of the courts and some distinguished members of the United States Congress — so we’re betting most major mobile operating system manufacturers will be answering questions in an official capacity in the near future. More →
According to a report filed by Reuters, Apple will edge out Google in the race to provide users with a cloud music service. “Apple’s plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection,” writes Reuters, citing two people familiar with Apple’s plans. The article goes on to cite a source familiar with Google’s cloud music plans, simply saying that the venture has stalled. “Apple has not told its music partners of when it intends to introduce its music locker,” the report continues. It has been widely rumored that Apple’s new North Carolina data center will be the bit-locker and heart of this new music venture. Apple declined Reuters request for comment. 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 →
Right on queue, Amazon has announced a new, cloud-based, music storage service dubbed Cloud Drive. The new offering will allow users to store up to 5GB of music in Amazon’s new, online locker and playback uploaded tracks via their Android smartphone, Android tablet, Mac, or PC. Users that purchase a complete album via Amazon’s MP3 store will automatically be upgraded to 20GB of storage, free of charge, and tracks purchased on Amazon are automatically uploaded to the cloud; purchased tracks do not count towards your storage quota. Stored music can be played-back using the Cloud Player for Web or Cloud Player for Android software (available in the Market now) and additional storage plans starting at $20 per year (we know some of you have large music collections). Congratulations Amazon, you are officially the first to market. The full press release is after the break. More →
Amazon may launch a new online storage locker this week that will allow users to store digital content — such as books, music, and movies — on Amazon’s servers. CNET, which cites sources from both the music and film industries, says Amazon is racing to launch the service in an effort to beat both Google and Apple to the market. This past weekend we reported that Google is already testing its own music service internally, and rumor has it that Apple may launch a new MobileMe service with a cloud-based music option, too. It’s unclear what Amazon will charge for such a service, but there are rumor’s that MobileMe could become a free service. More →
Images and specifications of Verizon’s next incredible handset — the HTC DROID Incredible 2 — have made their way onto the Internet. The crew over at AndroidSpin have acquired four images of the device along with a handful of specifications. What can we expect from the DROID Incredible 2? The site’s source asserts that the DI2 will have a 4-inch Super LCD WVGA display, 1GHz Qualcomm MSM 8655 processor, 4GB of on-board storage, 768MB of RAM, 8 megapixel rear-facing camera, 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, 1450mAh battery, and Gingerbread (Android 2.3) with the Sense UI experience. The site notes that the handset is currently running Froyo (Android 2.2), but expects the device to ship with the updated operating system. No word on when, exactly, we might see this handset hit store shelves. Follow the jump to view a few more images of the device. More →
We’ve just heard that AT&T retail stores won’t be selling the beefiest iPad 2 model today. Apparently, AT&T stores have received 16GB and 32GB iPad 2 models in black and white, but the highest capacity version is noticeably absent. Perhaps this is due to a supply issue or just the fact that Apple and AT&T have forecast that the majority of consumers will purchase 16GB and 32GB iPads, but it’s a tad bit interesting. We have reached out to AT&T for comment and will update this post accordingly. As for Verizon Wireless stores, we recommend customers call ahead of time to check if their local store will be carrying the iPad 2 at all today. We’ve been told not all Verizon locations will have them in stock but they can all place orders on site. The Verizon Wireless locations that will carry the iPad 2 today should be receiving the 64GB model, we’ve been told.
UPDATE: We have confirmed AT&T stores do not have 64GB models for sale later today, and we have confirmed that Verizon stores that are selling the iPad 2 do have 64GB models. Additionally, our local Apple store does not have Verizon iPad 2 units for sale. Very interesting…
As long as we’ve heard rumors of a Verizon iPhone, we’ve also heard rumors that a lighter, smaller, cheaper iPhone was in the works behind closed doors in Cupertino. Sticking to the theme of constantly rehashing rumors until they come true, The Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that Apple is indeed working on a bite-sized iPhone that will soon become a reality. Codenamed “N97,” the new iPhone will be half the size of the current model and could be available for as little as $49 on contract. It may include a “voice navigation” feature as well, providing a more flushed-out catalog of voice commands. We’re also starting to see a variety of designers issue mockups of the device, which would certainly shake up the mobile industry and spell further trouble for Apple’s competition. If The Journal’s report is accurate, however, the mockups we’ve seen thus far are likely way off base considering the rumored new iPhone model is said to feature a screen that “goes to all of the edges” of the phone. Finally, it is worth noting that an iPhone of this size would likely have to do away with the iPhone’s current home button configuration, a sentiment in line with our exclusive report from last month. More →