Blame the banks. Blame cheap credit. Blame serialized television advertisements that encouraged your mother to purchase something she didn’t need because she could pay for it in four monthly installments. Actually, just skip the blame game — subscriptions are here to stay, but they aren’t all bad. In recent years, the technology industry in particular has started to shift revenue models. While software, as an example, was sold as a one-time purchase for decades, today’s programmers largely expect smaller recurring revenues. More →
Beats Audio, the company behind the popular Beats by Dr. Dre line of over-ear and in-hear headphones, is reportedly planning to acquire subscription music service MOG. The deal was first reported by Business Insider and then reaffirmed by AllThingsD on Tuesday. Founded in 2005, MOG is a service similar to Spotify, Rhapsody and Microsoft’s Zune. It makes use of a freemium model and allows subscribers to stream unlimited music to a computer, tablet or smartphone. At last count, MOG touted more than 500,000 active users. Taiwan-based smartphone vendor HTC is the majority owner of Beats Audio and if the reports pan out, it is possible that the subscription music service will be incorporated into HTC’s Sense suite of software and services. The terms of the deal have not been reported. More →
Amazon’s new web-based Kindle Store for the iPad reportedly helps the online retailer dodge Apple’s fee that it would otherwise pay through a native Amazon Kindle Store iOS application. Amazon’s subscription program typically charges retailers 30% of all generated revenues, which has caused retailers like Amazon to create new ways for customers to purchase goods without having to pay a fee. The Financial Times also recently pulled its application to avoid the same subscription charges, and we would not be surprised if other magazines, newspapers or retail app developers follow suit. It’s unclear if Apple will tweak its terms in an effort to hold on to subscription providers. More →
Amazon updated its Kindle application for iOS devices on Wednesday with support for PDF files as well as newspaper and magazine subscriptions. A Kindle user can now email a file to his or her Send-to-Kindle address and then access it from within the application, and the app will open Adobe PDF files sent to a computer through iTunes, from Safari or directly from an email account. Amazon also added support for viewing more than 400 newspaper and magazine subscriptions inside the application. The UI for reading periodicals was completely redesigned for the iPad, and it allows users to read newspapers, magazines and print replica text books the way they were meant to be read. The iPhone and iPod touch app also features a redesigned library for quick access to the Newsstand, Kindle Books and Docs. Ars Technica noticed however, that The New York Times currently limits its subscriptions to hardware Kindle devices only, which means anyone who pays for a subscription to that newspaper may have trouble loading it on an iOS device. The update is live now and is available for free from the iTunes App Store. More →
Gamefly announced on Tuesday that its “Unlimited PC Play” beta client is now available for free for all Gamefly members. We first heard about Gamefly’s intentions to launch a PC client earlier this year, allowing subscribers to read news, check out reviews and play hundreds of PC games from dozens of top publishers. “We are thrilled to finally be able to open up the beta so anyone interested in video games can start using the client, and we are hard at work expanding our catalog of PC titles for our users to play for free in the Unlimited PC Play section,” GameFly co-founder and SVP of Business Development and Content Sean Spector said. “Casual to hardcore gamers can enjoy titles like Assassin’s Creed, Deus Ex or Saints Row 2, to Earthworm Jim, Jewel Quest or World of Goo at no additional cost to their GameFly subscription.” Gamefly’s full press release follows after the break. More →
Google is reportedly in talks with retailers in an effort to create a subscription-based expedited delivery service that will compete directly with Amazon Prime. Citing unnamed people familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal on Thursday reported that Google has contacted a number of retailers in an effort to provide unlimited speedy deliveries to members who pay an annual fee. Among the retailers Google has reportedly contacted about the service are Gap, OfficeMax and Macy’s. “They’ve approached us with the idea, but we haven’t made any decisions,” a Macy’s spokesman told The Journal, seemingly confirming the report. Google plans to integrate the service into its search engine to an extent, but the system would also feature some amount of integration on partner sites. According to the report, Google plans to pilot the service in San Francisco ahead of a full launch, which the company hopes will take place some time next year. More →
Until now, if you wanted to purchase an app on an iPad you had to pay a one-time purchase fee. Now, Apple is opening up its policies a bit to allow developers to create applications that charge monthly subscription fees for access to content. Big Fish Games is the first studio to gain approval from Apple to introduce an app subscription model, Bloomberg said. Big Fish Games will allow iPad owners to pay $4.99 per month for unlimited access to all of its games, and Apple takes a 30% cut of all revenues. “This is the first time that the technology has matched the business model,” Big Fish founder Paul Thelan said. Big Fish said it will also allow users to play its games for 30 minutes per day for free with advertising, and that it will increase its subscription price to $6.99 per month next year.
UPDATE: Big Fish’s app has now been removed from the App Store.
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 →
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 →
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 →
Amazon has updated its Kindle for iOS application with support for magazine and newspaper subscriptions. iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch users can now browse, purchase, and read from more than 100 newspapers and magazines, complete with high resolution color photos, and the company confirmed that more content is on its way. Amazon customers with existing subscriptions can find recent issues under the “Archived Items” menu inside the application. The update also removes Amazon’s Kindle Store button from the the app now allows users to share quotes and passages with Facebook and Twitter friends. Kindle for iOS version 2.8 is available in the iTunes App Store for free.
Apple is toying with the idea of placing a bid on the Hulu video streaming service, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. In June, Hulu announced that it had hired Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners to assist with a the sale of the company and rumor had it that Yahoo! was interested in making a bid at that time. Should an acquisition happen, Apple might use Hulu to create a subscription screaming video offering in an effort to compete with services such as Netflix. Currently, customers can only purchase or rent videos from iTunes. Amazon is also interested in the company, although Bloomberg reported that it won’t make a move unless it can have guaranteed access to television shows. Hulu, which offers a premium Hulu Plus subscription option for $7.99 per month, said that it expects to surpass 1 million subscribers this August. More →