If market research firm Gartner's numbers are even remotely in the ballpark, then Apple just socked Android in the face, knocked its rival down, and then tea-bagged the little green open-source fanboy. Harsh? You bet, but there's really no way else to describe dominating the $4.2 billion mobile app market by grabbing a 99.4 percent share, leaving just .6 percent for the also-rans.
"As smartphones grow in popularity and application stores become the focus for several players in the value chain, more consumers will experiment with application downloads," Stephanie Baghdassarian, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "Games remain the number one application, and mobile shopping , social networking, utilities, and productivity tools continue to grow and attract increasing amounts of money."
And most of it falls right into Apple's pocket. Even if Apple should lose some of its market share this year -- and it probably will -- the company still stands to make a king's ransom. According to Gartner, some 4.5 billion mobile apps will be sold in 2010, resulting in $6.8 billion in revenue. Jump ahead to 2013 and Gartner says there will be 21.6 billion apps sold for a total of $29.5 billion in revenue.
Are you ready to rock? Because you'll be doing a lot of head-banging and dancing around once you've transformed every computer in your living area into a collective speaker system. Perhaps the better question remains unasked: Why would you do this? Because you can. Because you want to. Because it reverses the issue of having to connect to or stream from a central music repository (like an iTunes database) and instead allows you to push tunes out of a single music hub to anywhere you want to them to go.
Also, you want to do this because the app that makes this cacophonous symphony possible--SpeakerShare--is super-easy to use and well worth the small time investment you'll make. For the full details on this virtual conductor, check out the rest of the article after the jump.
Ever been stuck on a flight watching Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and wished you could whip out you’re laptop and download something else? Well Aircell, the founders of the largest in-flight Wi-Fi network are hoping that’s true, and are planning to launch a new video rental service later in the year to capitalize on that very idea.
Movies downloaded using the Aircell video service can be saved to any Windows PC and the renter has 24 hours to watch their purchase. The approach is similar to the iTunes model, but Aircell promises that the pricing will be competitive with Apple at $2 to $4 per TV show or movie, and presumably the file will be optimized for the limited bandwidth available in the air.
Surveys conducted by Aircell have suggested that a video on demand service would be popular with users who find most airlines entertainment options somewhat lacking. Unfortunately we still don't know if users will need to pay the $5-$13 Wi-Fi access fee in addition to the rental costs for the video, and clearly this will make or break it for most people. If you pay $10 for a 2 hour flight + $4 for a movie, that’s a $14 rental. It’s hard to imagine this would be the case, but you never know when it comes to the airlines these days.
If you're going to call something "iTunes Preview," it'd be nice to, you know, actually be able to preview songs, and now you finally can.
To get it to work, head over to iTunes Preview through Apple's iTunes Charts page. Once there, mash on any album or artist and then hover your mouse cursor over a track number. You'll now see a little play icon which, when clicked, results in a 30-second snippet.
There are some caveats. You'll to have iTunes installed, and you can't preview an entire album. Nor does iTunes Preview offer up samples of movies, TV shows, audio books, or anything other than music. Still, it's a start, and a badly needed feature if iTunes Preview was going to live up to its name.
Innovate or die is a definite theme emerging from this year’s CES, and nowhere is this more apparent than with car navigation systems. In-car satnav is the ultimate uni-tasker, and now that smartphones are capable of doing this, they’re falling out of favor. Pioneer hopes to alter this trend a bit with the introduction of the AVIC-X920BT, a true multi-tasking beast.
The AVIC-X920BT is a double-DIN head unit that bundles together satnav, radio/CD, and iPod connectivity (via USB), voice recognition, and the first implementation of Pandora Internet radio. It has a 6.1-inch WXVGA screen (800 x 600 pixels), 3D graphics acceleration, DVD play-back, built-in Bluetooth, 4 GB of internal memory, an micro-SD card slot, and Pioneer’s proprietary MusicSphere interface. (MusicSphere has an iTunes plug-in for analyzing music libraries and creating specialized playlists based on certain musical attributes.) The AVIC-X920BT is also satellite radio-ready.
The navigation system uses the Tele Atlas with coverage of the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii), and Canada. It contains over 12 million points of interest, and uses an enhanced voice recognition system for input. It also has an ECO Driving feature that makes use of driving status reports when routing, to reduce environmental impact. (Companion PC software, AVIC FEEDS, will provide detailed information on trips, including an analysis of driving habits, which are used to generate suggestions on how to improve fuel efficiency.)
The AVIC-X920BT will be available in April, and will have a suggested retail price of $1,200.
It's back! I've covered Songbird before, but that's only because it's one of the best open-source alternatives to Apple's iTunes. Well, Songbird just got bumped up to version 1.4.2--a brief fix for a UI glitch that was affecting its December 21 release of version 1.4.1. The latter is really the meat and potatoes of Songbird's latest update, representing as good a time as any to try out this unique and easy-to-use application!
Why Songbird? Well, you won't be locked into using Apple's proprietary iTunes platform... sort-of. For while Songbird supports device synchronization for the app's music files and playlists, users of those i-named Apple devices will still have to use Songbird's clever iTunes export workaround to sync music to their devices. Beside that, Songbird offers a comprehensive amount of media sorting, organizing, and tagging--including playlists that automatically update with new pictures, videos, and tour dates for bands of-interest.
In fact, this is one of Songbird's strongest features. Its built-in Internet-based enhancements deliver a wealth of additional information and functionality beyond what you'd expect to find in iTunes and it's... well, it's single connection to Apple's own Music Store. Shoot, you can even purchase concert tickets through Songbird, not to mention pack a bundle of additional add-ons and customizations to truly trick out your media player/organizer as you see fit.
So what's new with this super-handy music app? Click the jump to see all the big 1.4.1 changes!
It’s an interesting idea, if it pans out. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that CBS and Disney are in discussions with Apple about participating in Apple’s future plans to offer subscription TV through iTunes. If the deal consummates, shows from CBS’s parent network and CW, and Disney’s ABC, Disney Channel, and ABC Family networks would be available.
The deal, according to the Journal, involves Apple paying content providers $2 to $4 per subscriber per month for a broadcast network, and $1 to $2 per month per subscriber per month for a basic-cable network. The monthly cost for a subscriber is estimated at $30 to $40, and access would be to all available network content.
Apple’s concept could morph into something wanted by many cable subscribers: the chance to choose the networks they want, rather than having to buy a fixed bundle (which includes a lot of networks they don’t want). Such flexibility would certainly be welcome.
This aspect of the deal, however, might serve to limit its potential. CBS has a cozy relationship with Viacom, and NBC was just purchased by Comcast. It’s unlikely they’d be willing to enter into a venture that might undermine these concerns. (Disney’s another matter, as Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO, is Disney’s largest single shareholder.)
If all the ducks fall into a row, Apple’s new service should be available sometime in 2010.
Reports today indicate that Apple is in talks to buy music streaming service Lala. Apple could be largely concerned with acquiring the technology or the people behind Lala. The streaming service has made a name for itself, but lacks a large customer base. Even with its recent inclusion in the Google music search tool, there are no indications that Lala is profitable. Apple’s massive music-buying customer base, could be just what Lala needs.
Lala currently offers users an opportunity to stream a song one time at no charge. Permanent access to that song will run 10 cents. Purchased tracks are not downloaded, but are rather stored on Lala’s servers. For 79 cents the tracks may be downloaded to the user’s computer.
Warner Music Group lost quite a chunk of change investing in Lala, so it will be surprising if Apple offers a large sum of money. However, if Lala could be integrated into the iTunes ecosystem as a subscription streaming service it could give Apple a huge source of revenue.
Update: Techcrunch is reporting the deal is done. New York Times reporter Brad Stone has tweeted that Apple has gone through with the deal and the NYT is updating their story. Stay tuned for more.
The relationship between things Apple and Windows 7 has hit a small snag. It appears that version 9 of iTunes, when run under the 64-bit version of Windows 7, is having problems synchronizing with iPhones. Given the popularity of iPhones, and the necessity of iTunes for keeping it populated with music, apps, and video, this could be a bit of a problem.
Postings in the Apple discussions, which go on for six pages, report pretty much the same thing--no iTunes-iPhone syncing, with iTunes reporting an error code of 0xE8000065, which like many Microsoft error codes, doesn’t reveal a great deal. In a few other cases users are told MTB USB drivers can’t be installed. As MTB drivers are needed to move media back-and-forth, this makes sense, but it’s not clear what prevents their installation.
Some users have reported turning off Apple’s Bonjour software helps, but others have reported back that either the fix didn’t work, or was only temporary. Other users say they have resolved the problem by taking the drastic step of completely restoring the iPhone, deleting the iPodDevices.xml file, turning on C-State functionality in the BIOS, removing Bonjour from the system, and closing all programs before plugging in the iPhone. Given the scope of this fix let’s hope that Apple gets the problem resolved quickly.
Apple is all about controlling their products and services. So it’s no surprise that they have locked the Palm Pre out of iTunes again in the new version of the software. The 88.5 MB update, v9.0.2, added support for the new version of the Apple TV software, but for those Pre owners that didn’t investigate fully, it also broke their syncing capability.
Apple and Palm have been playing this game since the Pre came out back in June. Palm knew from the start that Apple could continue issuing updates forever, but they hoped to get some support from the wider tech community. After having their complaint to the USB Implementers Forum thrown out, Palm was also told that their practice of faking Apple’s USB ID was unacceptable.
There are numerous ways to sync music with a Palm Pre, but Palm seems only to be interested in iTunes. There’s an argument to be made for Apple here: It’s their software, and they can do what they want. Would it be nice if they let the Pre sync? Sure, but it probably isn’t going to happen. In the meantime, Palm just isn’t providing their customers with a reasonable syncing experience. Should Palm just get over it? Should Apple take the high road and stop the patch battle? Let us know in the comments.