Spotify is the darling of tech blogs, but the overwhelming media hype leading up to the service’s U.S. launch has seemingly not carried over to end users. According to a recent report from the New York Post, paid subscriber growth in the U.S. has failed to meet expectations thus far. Spotify launched stateside roughly nine months ago and the service amassed 250,000 paid subscribers in its first three months. According to the Post, Spotify is now home to 3 million users in the U.S., but only 600,000 are paying either $4.99 or $9.99 per month for premium service while the remaining 80% enjoy free basic service. “People aren’t 100 percent happy,” the Post’s source said, noting that Spotify plans to remove the limit of five plays per month on individual songs for free subscribers in an effort to bolster user loyalty.
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 →
Apple’s Newsstand application, which allows iOS 5 users on the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch to subscribe to and purchase magazines, has resulted in a surge of magazine subscriptions. According to paidContent, Condé Nast recently said its weekly subscription sales for nine of its digital magazines (Allure, Brides, Glamour, Self, GQ, Golf Digest, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair and Wired) increased 268% since the storefront made its debut alongside iOS 5. In addition, sales of single issues surged 142% in comparison to the eight weeks prior to Apple’s launch of Newsstand. “Putting all the magazines in one place just makes the most sense, in terms of allowing easy discovery for consumers,” Condé Nast executive vice president Monia Ray told paidContent. “Furthermore, the update from iOS 5 is terrific, especially the background loading. We have a lot of features embedded in our titles and they take time to load. Background loading helps ease the wait-factor. But for the most part, before, the App Store represented a wide-ranging bazaar. Now, it has clear aisles to make it simple for consumers to browse.” More →
The NPD Group’s latest Games Industry: Total Consumer Spend report suggests consumers spent an additional $1.74 billion on video game content during the second quarter. NPD classifies this additional category of content as anything that involves gaming outside of new physical video and PC game software. Examples include purchases for social network games, downloadable content, mobile games, digital downloads, subscriptions, game rentals and used game purchases. Consumers spent a total of $1.44 billion on physical games for consoles and PCs during the quarter and, in total, spent $4.5 billion on video game content, hardware and accessories. That figure is up 1% from the same quarter last year. “While the new physical retail channel still generates the majority of industry sales, our expanded research coverage allows us to assess the total consumer spend across the growing number of ways to acquire and experience gaming, including mobile apps and downloadable content,” NPD Group industry analyst Anita Frazier said. Read on for the full press release from NPD. 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.
Consumers will spend $2.1 trillion on digital information and entertainment products in 2011, Gartner says
According to a new research report from Gartner, consumers are on track to spend a record $2.1 trillion on digital information and entertainment products this year. That figure is expected to hit $2.8 trillion by 2015. $1.2 trillion — 62% — is spent on subscription-based communication services such as mobile, voice, and data services, broadband packages, video services, online gaming, and cable TV subscriptions. $600 billion, 28% of the total $2.1 trillion, is spent on devices themselves, and 10% is spent on content such as computer software, video on-demand, and pay-per-view services. “The three key technology areas that will offer the best opportunity for vendors during the next three years are: wireless broadband, which will enable constant connectivity; location-based services (LBS), which will personalize and take advantage of the constant connected state; and operating systems, which are the foundation for integration applications that can bring it all together,” Mikako Kitagawa, principal research analyst at Gartner, said. Read on for the full release. More →
Could all the recent hoopla stirred up by Apple’s decision to enforce its existing App Store subscription policies be much ado about nothing? Earlier this month, Apple announced that its new App Store subscription service became available to all publishers. In a related note prior to that announcement, Apple noted that it would begin cracking down on content providers who had been skirting a rule stipulating all apps providing links to Web-based content purchases must also make the same content available using Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism — therefor forcing them to cough up Apple’s 30% cut. As a result, developers were enraged. Apple’s typically unclear wording left each developer guessing as to whether or not it might be affected by the policy. Some publicly jumped to conclusions while others went further still and announced that they would abandon iOS all together. One developer recently decided to email Apple CEO Steve Jobs and inquire about the matter, however, and claims to have received a response. Both emails are found after the break. More →
Just one day after Apple made its App Store subscription service available to publishers, Google has already responded by announcing a similar service for its Android platform. The solution will also work in Web-based clients, allowing publishers to reach users on multiple platforms with a single solution. Much like Apple’s implementation, Google’s One Pass provides users with a single interface where they can access and manage all of their digital newspaper, magazine and other content subscriptions. Unlike App Store subscriptions, however, Google gives publishers much more freedom with regard to pricing models and flexibility. Publishers will also be able to give free or reduced subscriptions to paid print subscribers, and they can even utilize a freemium model if they so desire. Hit the break for a video from Google outlining the One Pass product. More →
Apple on Tuesday announced that its new App Store subscription model is available to all publishers. First introduced with News Corp’s The Daily, Apple’s new subscription model allows publishers to charge a recurring fee for content such as digital magazines and newspapers. The feature has been highly anticipated by publishers, who often claimed that the lack of a subscription model for publishers on the iPad was the main reason magazines and newspapers have not gained the traction many had hoped for. Subscription models now available to publishers include weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-yearly and yearly subscriptions. On the user side, iOS device owners will be able to manage all of their App Store subscriptions from a single page. Hit the jump for Apple’s full press release. More →
News Corp’s iPad-only newspaper The Daily is finally official and we couldn’t be happier to put this drawn-out ordeal behind us. News Corp CEO Rupert Murdoch was on hand at a press conference on Wednesday to introduce his new pride and joy, and details are as follows: The Daily, as one might assume, will ba a daily paper — available only on the iPad to start — and new issues will be available 365 days each year. The Daily will be interactive, packed full of 360-degree photos and original video content, and some articles will even be read aloud from within the app. There will also be Web-friendly versions of articles to share on Twitter, Facebook and so on. The publication will include crossword puzzles, Sudoku puzzles and customizable content such as weather forecasts and scores from your favorite sports teams. More interesting than The Daily itself is the imminent introduction of Apple’s new App Store subscription option for publishers, which will allow companies to build apps that serve subscription-based content. The new functionality is only available on The Daily for the time being, but Apple VP Eddy Cue said an announcement on availability is forthcoming.
The Daily app will be available in the App Store starting at 12:00PM EST today, and subscriptions will cost $0.99 per week or $39.99 for a one-year subscription. Interested parties will also be happy to learn that the first two weeks of The Daily will be free thanks to a sponsorship agreement with Verizon. More →
Did the UK-based paper Guardian just tip Apple’s rumored iOS subscription service? In a post today, the Guardian acknowledged some of the frustrations users of its iOS application are having. After issuing its mea culpa, the publication went on to note that it will be releasing a new and improved application, one that will right some of the previous apps wrongs and, among other things, be subscription based.
“We’ve already announced that the new app will have a new price point: £2.99 for six months and £3.99 for 12 months,” reads the post. “We’ll be launching the new app globally for the first time and although we can’t confirm exactly when it will be available, we’re working towards a pre-Christmas release.”
While the report does not explicitly state how the company will be billing for its services, the timing of the announcement is interesting. Speculation amongst technology insiders has Apple releasing an iOS update, version 4.3, around December 9th. The update’s payload will, purportedly, bring content subscriptions to the iOS platform.
Apple is also rumored to be working with media giant News Corp. on a daily, iPad-only, subscription-based publication titled The Daily.
A sometimes overlooked feature that has been made incredibly simple on the iPhone is the ability to subscribe to a variety of calendars. Many are familiar with CalDAV as it adds a quick and easy way to keep your iPhone or iPod touch in sync with your Google Calendar, but did you know you can also add a wide range of publicly available calendar subscriptions in a matter of seconds? One of the more common subscriptions is the US holidays calendar but you can also quickly and easily add TV show schedules, network premier schedules, sports team schedules, movie releases, concert tour schedules and plenty more to your iPhone calendar. Hit the jump to find out how.
Amazon announced today that it has added a dedicated Xbox LIVE store to its myriad of electronic storefronts. This latest partnership allows customers to purchase Xbox LIVE Arcade games, subscription cards and Microsoft points directly from Amazon. Customers who purchase Xbox LIVE content from Amazon will be provided with a digitally-delivered code that they can redeem via their own console or give as a gift to an Xbox 360 owner. The ability to give a select Xbox LIVE Arcade game as a gift is a feature unique to Amazon’s store — previously, all Xbox LIVE Arcade games had to be purchased through an Xbox 360 console which made it difficult for a non-gamer to give such a gift. The Xbox LIVE store also features Amazon’s typical recommendation system and online customer reviews. Check it out and let us know what you think.