Posts Tagged ‘iTunes’

Vudu now offering Disney HD movies for purchase on same 'day and date' as Blu-ray

Disney HD content for purchase on Vudu

Disney HD content for purchase on Vudu

Vudu (U.S.-only) is to offer new Disney HD releases for purchase through its set-top box movie service on the same “day and date” as their competing DVD/Blu-ray release. It’s the first time that Disney has broadly licensed its content in HD for sale through an online video service, beyond one-off offerings or ‘rental-only’, says Vudu. Alongside new releases, 60 library films are also being added to Vudu’s ‘for purchase’ HD catalog. Disney chose to work with Vudu, says the company, “in large part because of the [picture] quality” offered by the service.

Interestingly, Steve Jobs, the guy who runs Apple, is also Disney’s majority shareholder after the motion picture company bought animation studio Pixar a few years back. Therefore, I wonder how long it will be before iTunes secures the same access to Disney’s HD library as Vudu, if it hasn’t already.

Amazon MP3, Wal-Mart and Rhapsody just made buying music more confusing following iTunes' lead

With the major labels cajoling Apple into upping the cost of the most popular tracks on iTunes, I wondered how long it would take other music download stores to follow suit. Not long it seems – less than a day in fact – with paidContent and Ars Technica reporting that Amazon, Wal-Mart, Lala and Rhapsody have followed Apple’s lead and introduced ‘variable pricing’.

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iTunes variable pricing has nothing to do with "supply and demand", just record label greed and stupidity

itunes-variableHoping to turn ‘supply and demand’ economics on its head, at the request of the major record labels Apple has introduced ‘variable pricing’ to the iTunes Store.

Under the new pricing structure, announced back in January at Macworld, tracks cost either 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29, depending on their popularity. Or as the LA Times recently reported:

True to supply-and-demand economics, the price of music downloads will be geared to the artist’s popularity. Releases from new artists would receive the lower pricing, while tracks from popular acts would get slapped with the higher rate. Even classics, such as Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA,” could retail for the higher price. Most of the 10 million songs in the iTunes catalog are expected to remain at 99 cents.

Except, the new pricing model has nothing to do with “supply and demand” economics, which states:

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iPhone's 'In App' purchases will be a boon to micro-payments

If it wasn’t already clear who owns the customer – Apple or its mobile carrier partners – yesterday’s announcement that ‘In App’ purchases will be a prominent feature of the next version of the iPhone’s OS suggests, once again, that power resides very much with Steve Jobs and co. in Cupertino.

When iPhone OS 3.0 is rolled out this summer, developers will be able to charge for additional content within their applications – so that, for example, an iPhone game could at anytime prompt a player to purchase additional levels or other in-game content, such as maps, without the user having to leave the app and billed through their existing iTunes account. For the privilege, Apple takes its standard 30% cut, once again bypassing the carriers. That in itself is disruptive enough. However, there’s another force at play.

Micro-payments. Or more broadly, in an era of free and ad-supported, getting consumers used to the idea once again of actually paying for content, albeit online.

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Concept: iPhone app management in iTunes done right

I have a fascination with all things usability, and when it comes to the art of user experience, Apple is second to none. But that’s not to say that they always get things right or that ideas from Cupertino can’t be improved upon. They can – just ask Palm with its Pre smartphone and webOS.

More proof comes via a concept video published on YouTube, demonstrating a much better way to manage iPhone apps via Apple’s desktop iTunes software. As Gizmodo explains:

The concept is simple, and wouldn’t require a change of habit by iPhone/iPod touch users: in iTunes, users see a representation of their various home screen(s), with which they can remove, move or sort apps. Sorting options are an obvious addition—sorting by most-used is what most people do manually (and imperfectly) anyway, so having a one-click option for that would be an immediate improvement. If custom sorting is your game, this will make the previously cumbersome process almost instant.

The result is simply brilliant and if the comments left on YouTube are anything to go by, Apple should hire this guy and get to work immediately putting his ideas into the next version of iTunes. As per usual, video demo after the jump…

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Apple caves to major labels in return for DRM-free iTunes

Major record labels to Apple: You can ditch DRM completely in return for higher prices.

That’s right, the major labels have finally got their way as, come this April, Apple’s iTunes will introduce “variable pricing”, with tracks costing either 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29, depending on how popular they are likely to be. In return, Apple gets to move all 10 million tracks in its iTunes store over to a DRM-free format — 256 kbps AAC — including those from Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, Warner Music Group and EMI, along with thousands of independent labels, something that’s been partially lacking compared to rival stores such as Amazon MP3.

While Apple asserts that the majority of music sold will be at the new lower price of 69 cents (currently all tracks retail at a unified price of 99 cents), at the labels’ request, the most sort after songs will be priced at the higher $1.29. This is the crucial part, since if you follow the Long Tail of digital music downloads, naturally a significant amount of activity — think new releases from established and well backed artists — happens at the fat not thin end of the ‘tail’, where tracks will likely be priced highest.

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Review: MySpace Music is perfect for those who like MySpace

The new MySpace Music is exactly what you’d expect from MySpace: organized clutter, lots of Flash movement, overwhelming advertising, banner ads, and everything screaming for your attention at once.

For some of us (read: older folks and those with no interest in MySpace), MySpace Music holds little interest. But to the tens of millions of kids and young adults who cruise through MySpace daily, MySpace Music might be just what they want.

Developing MySpace Music is an excellent strategic move by MySpace, but how successful it will be in the long run depends on its execution and relationship with Amazon’s MP3 store.

I spent the day playing around with MySpace Music, and this is what I found — besides a wonderful R&B album by Raphael Saadiq.

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Amazon's Video on Demand service poised to give Apple's iTunes a run for its customers

Say goodbye (and good riddance) to Amazon Unbox and say hello (and welcome) to Amazon Video on Demand.

Amazon launched its new video streaming service Thursday. After a quick downloading and viewing of the TV show “Eureka,” we say Amazon Video on Demand is a worthy contender to Apple’s iTunes.

For one, Amazon’s new video service works where Unbox failed — it plays on Macs. And, another plus, the video starts steaming instantly. A big improvement over the boxy Unbox.

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Report: iTunes still leading music store in the U.S.

Apple’s iTunes remains number one in the U.S. amongst all music retailers according to the latest NPD MusicWatch figures. Based on purchases of CDs and a-la-carte digital music downloads from January through to June of this year, the league table is as follows:

  1. iTunes
  2. Wal-Mart (Walmart,, Walmart Music Downloads)
  3. Best Buy (Best Buy,, Best Buy Digital Music Store)
  4. Amazon (,
  5. Target (Target and

NPD says the results reflect “the ongoing consumer shift from physical CDs to digital music”, which has helped iTunes to consolidate the lead it established earlier this year.

See also: Review: Amazon MP3 offers compelling, promising alternative to iTunes

Most notably, Amazon has moved from fifth place to fourth, which NPD attributes to stronger CD sales online compared to competing brick-and-mortar stores, along with the launch of the company’s own music download store, AmazonMP3, last year. As a result, we shouldn’t be surprised to see Amazon overtake Best Buy in the not too distant future.

Coming soon: iTunes remote control app for iPhone and iPod touch

Coming soon: iTunes remote control app for iPhone and iPod touchThis one is obvious but cool nonetheless.

With the launch of the App Store next month, Apple will release free software that lets you control iTunes on your Mac (or PC, we presume) via an iPhone or iPod touch. MacRumors notes the discovery in a pre-release version of iTunes 7.7 seeded to developers last night. “In the Read Me of the iTunes installer is a hint at a previously unannounced iPhone/iPod Touch application”:

… the new Remote application for iPhone or iPod touch to control iTunes playback from anywhere in your home — a free download from the App Store.

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