Archive for the ‘Audio’ Category

Spotify hits the iPhone and Android app stores

The stars were already aligned: a preemptive PR strike, a premium business model, and regulators questioning anti-competitive practices with relation to the iPhone’s app store — making it less and less surprising that Apple should give Spotify the green light.

See also: How Spotify can beat Microsoft [music streaming]

As of today, the iPhone version of the music streaming service is available for download from Apple’s official App Store — UK, Sweden, Spain, France, Norway and Finland only (with the U.S. debut planned for sometime next year) — while a mobile client for the Google-led Android has also launched. The app is free for either platform but you’ll need to be a Spotify premium subscriber — £10 per month in the UK — to access the service.

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Nokia's all-you-can eat music service now "comes with" its own flagship touch screen phone – Nokia X6

Nokia_X6_white_blue_homescreenAlthough I’d put poor marketing, carrier resistance, and possibly DRM, ahead of the lack of a flagship device to explain why Comes With Music, Nokia’s all-you-can-eat music service, hasn’t been the hit the handset maker had hoped for, the company’s newly announced X6 music phone is encouraging.

The device, unveiled at Nokia World today, is to be a Comes With Music exclusive offering, and sports a 3.2-inch touch screen display (16:9 ratio at 360 x 640 pixels), 32 GB of built-in storage, a 5 megapixel camera with Carl Zeiss optics and dual LED flash, A-GPS and WiFi, amongst its impressive stats. And in a first for Nokia, that touch screen is capacitive (not resistive), meaning that its should be a lot more responsive to the touch of a finger. Regular readers will know I’m not a fan of old skool stylus optimized resistive screens.

A quick recap of how Comes With Music works: you purchase a qualifying Nokia handset and then get access to the entire library of the Nokia Music Store for 12 – 18 months and get to keep any downloaded tracks once the subscription ends. For that privilege, the Nokia X6 has an estimated retail price of EUR 450, although the handset maker is stressing that ‘in many, many markets’, thanks to carrier subsidy, the device should be closer to “free”.

Spotify on iPhone approved by Apple

With Apple stuck between the FCC, Eurpean Union regulators and a hard place, I’m not that surprised to see the approval of music streaming service Spotify’s iPhone app. Apple today confirmed to paidContent that Spotify (currently Europe-only) has been given the green light and will be available in the App Store “very soon”.

While many had speculated that the app might be rejected by Cupertino on the grounds of ‘duplicating’ (read: competing with) the iPhone’s built in functionality — iTunes — I was confident that, especially in the current climate, Spotify would be approved.

I predict that Apple will in the end give Spotify the green light based on several factors. Avoiding monopoly accusations being one. Spotify’s pricing model being another (the iPhone app will only be available to premium subscribers so it’s far from a free-for-all). And then there’s Apple’s kludgy multitasking solution. The latter of which means that Spotify on iPhone will be unable to run in the background. Switch to a different app and the music stops.

One thing we don’t yet know, however, is if Apple has in anyway restricted any of the features of the Spotify iPhone app, in particular the ability to cache playlists for off-line playback. This feature alone means that Spotify competes more heavily with iTunes than other streaming music apps that already exist for the iPhone.

Overall though it looks like great news for Spotify and bodes well for the future of Rhapsody’s iPhone app, which is currently pending Apple’s approval.

Real's Rhapsody enters App Store submission hell, could bode well for Spotify?

Adopting a similar PR strategy to Spotify, U.S.-only music subscription service Rhapsody ($14.99-a-month) has published details of its iPhone app, mid submission process to Apple’s App Store. While submitting an app alone far from guarantees that it will ever see the light of day through Cupertino’s official channel, by showing off the app now, including a video demo (below), it does ensure that any dirty linen on Apple’s part is aired in public. It also helps to build consumer demand from existing Rhapsody subscribers who also own an iPhone in preparation for a backlash should the app be rejected.

And rejection is certainly a possibility.

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VidZone, Sony PS3's on-demand music video service, is a hit with… record labels

vidzoneI was so underwhelmed with VidZone, the PlayStation 3’s on-demand music video service, that I couldn’t bring myself to review it. The UI is clunky and videos stream in a 4:3 aspect ratio, even for recent releases, so that they don’t fill up the whole screen on my High Def telly.

However, it seems that I’m in the minority, if the company behind VidZone is to be believed. The service is a hit with the major record labels, meaning that it’s presumably resonating with consumers too, its co-founders tell

After starting off by having to persuade the major labels to license their music videos to the service, VidZone says that the music industry is now knocking at their door.

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Creative announces Android-based PMP platform, goes head to head with Apple's iPod touch

This is pretty interesting on the surface but misses a trick.


Creative, who has its roots in MP3 players and other portable media devices, have announced an Android-based media player platform. I say platform because the company may never release a consumer-facing device itself, but instead is touting its own reference design, software development kit and media processor to OEMs and developers.

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Spotify launches preemptive PR strike following iPhone App Store submission

Spotify has submitted its iPhone app to Apple’s App Store and the company wants everybody to know it. An official blog post has gone up, demos of the app to select press have been given, and a YouTube video (see below) is doing the rounds.

Now the wait begins, however: Will Apple approve the music streaming service for distribution on its platform, a service that, when you dig a little deeper, appears to compete more directly with the company’s own iTunes Music Store than similar offerings, such as and Pandora, both of which have already been given the go-ahead by Cupertino.

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How Spotify can beat Microsoft [music streaming]

Spotify, which has become the talk of the town here in London, could launch in the US as early as September, reports the Observer newspaper. The music streaming service, which offers both ad-supported and subscription versions, is seen as not only a real iTunes contender but also compelling enough and the right side of “free” to wean users off of illegal file sharing networks.

I’m a big fan myself and am particularly excited about the up and coming Android, Symbian and iPhone mobile versions of the service.

See also: Music streaming service Spotify demos Android app, off-line syncing included!

Along with the incumbent iTunes — who offer a different model: ala carte downloads — Spotify will face much competition in the ad-supported and subscription streaming space. US-strongholds include services such as Pandora, iMeem, MySpace and (ad-supported), along with Napster and Rhapsody (subscription).

One other competitor whom Spotify may or may not have had in mind when deciding to compete in the US is Microsoft (the underwhelming Zune aside). The Redmond giant is reportedly launching a similar service to European-based Spotify later this month.

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The Pirate Bay sold, plans to go legit. Users urged to become capitalists.

When the Pirate Bay four were convicted of “assisting in making copyright content available” and sentenced to a one year prison term and a fine of $3.6 million, the site’s co-founder Peter Sunde played down the verdict, claiming that it was business as usual. The argument being that the site itself was never on trial, only the four individuals named in the law suit.

Today, however, we learn that, moving forward, it’s far from business as usual as The Pirate Bay has been acquired by Global Gaming Factory X (GGF), a publicly listed company in Sweden, for the grand sum of $7.8 million. Profit made from the sale will be used to fund a new political organization set up “to help with projects about freedom of speech, freedom of information and the openness of the nets”, according to a blog post published on The Pirate Bay.

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Pirate Bay offering file sharers their own encrypted private network

Forget the UK government’s Digital Britain report (out today), which will propose a solution to the “file sharing problem”, or Virgin Media and UMG’s carrot-and-stick solution. Notorious BitTorrent tracker Pirate Bay thinks it has the answer: a new service that will offer file swappers their own encrypted virtual private network that will keep any “ilegal” activities away from the prying eyes of the content industry and their trigger happy legal teams.

Dubbed IPREDator after Sweden’s copyright law IPRED (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive), the VPN service is currently in limited beta with 3,000 testers and another 180,000 on the waiting list. The service costs 5 euros per-month.

(via The Register)