Removing some of the suckage from iTunes, Apple has begun informing music distributors that it's increasing the length of some samples three-fold, CNet reports.
"We are pleased to let you know that we are preparing to increase the length of music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on the iTunes Store in the United States," Apple said. "We believe that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases."
The longer samples apply to songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Apple tried to push through the change back at the beginning of September but met with resistance from the National Music Publishers Association (NMPA), which argued that Jobs and Co. needed to further negotiate with music publishers.
It took 14 months, thousands of user protests, and an FCC investigation, but the Google Voice iPhone application has finally been approved. The app enables free phone calls within the United States, along with steeply discounted international calling, a move that likely won’t sit well with AT&T who charges a much higher rate for long distance calling. Google Voice also offers free voicemail transcriptions, the ability to listen to voicemail messages live, and several other indispensable call forwarding and number management tools.
The good news for iPhone users helps underscore Apple’s recent commitment to loosening up the reigns on app store approvals, but its hard to mistake this act of charity as anything less than a move to keep up with the competition. The iPhone platform finds itself increasingly competing for developer time with Android, WebOS, and now even Windows Phone 7.
Has Apple’s recent change of heart convinced you the iPhone is worth looking at? Or did you ditch the Retina display for an OLED long ago?
Apple announced on late Friday that it’s Ping Social networking service has hit 1 million users since its launch 48 hours ago. Few doubted that the service would be an instant hit since, like Google Buzz, it was shoehorned into existing products that we are forced to use everyday.
According to Apple “One-third of the people who have downloaded iTunes 10 have joined Ping,“ said Eddy Cue, vice president of Internet Services. “As many more people download iTunes 10 in the coming weeks, we expect the Ping community to continue growing.“
It will be interesting to see if Ping catches on in any meaningful way, but it has a number of interesting limitations to overcome. Anyone who tried out the service since launch will know that unless you’re a Lady Gaga or Yo-Yo Ma fan most of your favorite artists have yet to establish a profile. This is likely because of the veil of secrecy maintained around all Apple products, but they would have been far better off risking an information leak than unveiling a service that many will try once, get frustrated with and never return to.
We are also left scratching our heads as to why we need to use iTunes to check our feed, haven’t these guys heard of a web browser? Time will tell if they can iron out the kinks, but can we at least agree iTunes did not need any more features?
Sources are reporting that Apple is in talks with several major networks to begin offering 99-cent TV show rentals on the iTunes platform. Talks with News Corp. are apparently barreling ahead, while deals with CBS and Disney are looking solid as well. This new arrangement could be part of Apple's announcement at the annual Fall iPod event expected to be held next month.
If successful, these deals would offer users of Apple's iTunes ecosystem to access a much larger catalog of content on a rental basis. The files are expected to be available for purchase within 24 hours of air date, and will be commercial free. Amid the rumors of a $99 Apple TV relaunch (maybe called iTV), this new pricing structure could be very tempting for many consumers.
With options like Netflix working hard to expand selection for a flat rate, do you think a rental system like this will succeed?
If you have a PayPal account connected to your iTunes login, now might be the time to decouple the two for a bit. At least one group of scammers has managed to find a security hole allowing them to charge thousands of dollars to users' iTunes accounts via PayPal. In some cases the amounts taken were obscene, with one would-be victim telling TechCrunch, "My account was charged over $4700. I called security at PayPal and was told a large number of iTunes store accounts were compromised." This user was able to keep his bank from disbursing funds to PayPal, but others are not so lucky.
Users are reporting all over the web that PayPal is promising to contact Apple to investigate the issues. PayPal seems to be working to set things right for their customers, but Apple hasn't been involved as of yet. Have you been a victim of this offense? Let us know in the comments who you've talked to, and what they told you.
On the PC side, users have been able to enjoy support for Blu-Ray movie playback for quite awhile now. However, Apple has been reluctant to add in similar capabilities on the OSX side of things. A user recently emailed Steve Jobs, and as he tends to do these days, he sent out a curt response predicting the death of the format.
The question centered around the new Mac Mini, and how it sure would be cool if it had a Blu-Ray drive. Jobs responded saying that, "Bluray is looking more and more like one of the high end audio formats that appeared as the successor to the CD - like it will be beaten by Internet downloadable formats." In a later response, Jobs also claimed that streaming 720p content would win most people over.
It seems extremely likely that physical media will fade into the background at some point, but this may not be the time. With ISPs instituting bandwidth caps, streaming HD video could be more risky as the quality improves. Apple's iTunes store has sway over the content delivery arena, but can Apple really kill Blu-Ray by sheer force of will?
Google is said to be prepping its own music store for a fall 2010 launch. The internet giant had announced a web-based iTunes rival during its I/O developer’s conference last month. The music store was revealed as a new section of the Android marketplace, but knowing Google, its music plans could be far too ambitious for the service to remain confined to Android. According to a Cnet report, quoting music industry sources, Google is indeed looking beyond Android. It is likely to link digital downloads and streaming music to its search results.
According to new numbers from the NPD Group, Apple's iTunes extended its lead over Walmart and now dominates the online music scene with a 70 percent share of the digital music market, while sales accounted for 28 percent of all music purchased during the first quarter of 2010.
Walmart sits it in a distant second place, a position it now shares with Amazon, which was able to gain 4 percentage points to tie Walmart with 12 percent of the market.
"Amazon's growth reflects a stronger position in both the CD and digital formats," Russ Crupnick, vice president of industry analysis for the NPD Group, said in a statement. "This dual-pronged approach of selling both digital music and CDs helps attract the most valuable and committed music buyer who prefers access to both formats."
Walmart held the top spot in physical CD sales with 17 percent of the market, though CD sales in general are declining. Digital music, meanwhile, made up 40 percent of the market in the first quarter of 2010, up significantly from 5 percent during the same quarter one year ago.
Apple's recent success is continuing to attract attention from federal antitrust authorities. Sources familiar with the matter are saying the justice Department is starting a preliminary inquiry into anti-competitive practices in Apple's iTunes music store. The investigation will reportedly focus on Apple's ability to influence marketing decisions in the recording industry.
The event that may have precipitated this preliminary action occurred in March, when Billboard Magazine claimed Apple was pressuring music labels to stop taking part in Amazon's promotional deals. Apple was allegedly threatening to withdraw marketing support from labels that worked with Amazon. Another contributing factor is that Apple actually hold more of the music sales market than most people realize. Of all sales (digital and physical), Apple controls 28% of them. In just digital downloads, Apple has a 70% market share.
With this, and the recent investigation of Apple's new iPhone developer agreement, it's clear federal authorities are watching the Cupertino company more closely than ever. Do you think Apple's behavior is ant-competitive?