The idea of dethroning Apple's iTunes service to lord over the domain of digital music downloads seems like a long shot at best, just don't tell that to BSkyB, the satellite broadcaster who has high hopes for its upcoming Sky Songs digital music service.
Perhaps rightfully so, as BSkyB has inked deals with several music suppliers, including EMI, Sony, Warner, and a bunch of independent labels. But unlike iTunes and its per-track business model, Sky Songs will be a subscription-based service charging subscribers a flat fee every month. This also differs from Spotify, which serves up free access to music but plays ads.
"[Sky Songs] will offer access to unlimited music as well as premium fan-oriented content, while ensuring our roster of artists are appropriately rewarded for their creativity," said Eric Daugan of Warner Music, Europe.
Sky Songs is expected to launch next week with two subscription options available. For £6.49, subscribers will be able to download and keep a single album or 10 songs but forgo unlimited streaming, while the £7.99 subscription ups the ante with unlimited streams and 15 individual downloads to keep.
In what most likely is a nonevent, the media management company doubleTwist last week introduced the standalone application doubleTwist, which provides access to Amazon’s MP3 downloads. Billed as an iTunes competitor, doubleTwist will allow you to download music and, just like you can if you downloaded at Amazon or Lala or most other online music providers, put them on any device capable of playing MP3s--including an Apple iPod. Wow!
doubleTwist has an iTunes-familiar interface. You can download music (only music, and only from Amazon), but doubleTwist will allow you to manage your music, photos, and movies (which doubleTwist cleverly snatches from your iTunes library). The interface is familiar to iTunes users, but definitely more utilitarian.
A strength of doubleTwist may be its ability to manage your media on a variety of devices, such as the Palm Pre, BlackBerry, the Amazon Kindle, the Sony PSP, and Windows Media devices. But, alas, iPod/iPhone support is only available for Windows users at present. doubleTwist claims to transcode your files to the necessary format before loading to a mobile device.
Apple has been called out in the past for using its software updater to push unwanted applications out to Windows users, but apparently all the bad press wasn’t enough to teach them a lesson claims ZDNet blogger Ed Bott. Apparently Apple has taken to forcing out its new “iPhone Configuration Utility” using their automated Software Updater, and even systems that have never come in contact with an iPhone before are being targeted.
Upon further testing he was able to confirm that this update was being suggested out to every system that had allowed the Apple Software Updater to become installed, and suggests users keep a close eye on it to avoid downloading applications they don’t need. It’s bad enough Apple keeps trying to force Safari on Windows users, but iPhone configuration utilities for those without iPhones? That’s low.
Apple's iTunes 9 is now available for download, and with it a cleaner interface and several added features, not the least of which is what the company is calling 'iTunes LP.'
"iTunes 9 is a great iTunes release, with innovative features that make using iTunes better than ever and iTunes content richer than ever," said Steve Jobs, Apple's CEO. "iTunes LP, for example, lets artists share more of their creativity with fans and gives music lovers the feeling of being immersed in an entire album with art, lyrics, liner notes, photos, and videos."
The redesigned store also boasts improved syncing, Home Sharing of iTunes libraries on up to five authorized computers, previews from anywhere in the store, Genius Mixes, which searches your iTunes library and "finds songs that go great together," and more. You can also finally organize your iPhone apps right in iTunes and they will automatically appear on your iPhone with the same layout, Apple says.
Shame on you if you purchased one of the 78 business apps from the iTunes store with the intent on using it for your...business? As quirky as that sounds, it's the exact stance Apple is taking.
This isn't a new policy on Apple's part, but it's garnering attention now after a Swedish customer named Martin posted his customer support exchange on his blog. Upon requesting an apps invoice that breaks down VAT (Value Added Tax) charges, a Tier 1 support representative informed Martin that he was simply out of luck.
"The iTunes Store sells only to customers as end-users for personal, noncommercial use in ther respective countries of residence. The amount you see on your receipt is a total (including tax) with this purpose in mind," the support rep wrote in an email to Martin.
The unnamed rep went on to explain that any attempts to claim purchases for tax reasons would be in violation of the terms of sale, which is true. But when Martin pointed out that "Swidish law requires you to specify sales tax, REGARDLESS of if you sell to a business or a private person," the rep made a pitch to Martin to leave iTunes Feedback to enact change with Apple's policy.
Read the full exchange here, then hit the jump and sound off.
Web chatter has it that Apple might be releasing iTunes 9 as early as next month, but that's only half of what's been spinning in the rumor mill. Citing a "pretty reliable source," the Boy Genius Report feels fairly confident Blu-ray support will be added to the upcoming release. The rumor coincides with another one from Apple Insider claiming that the new iMacs will also integrate Blu-ray support. Apparently the time is right for Apple to make the jump.
"Blu-ray is just a bag of hurt," Steve Jobs said last October. "It's great to watch the movies, but the licensing of the tech is so complex, we're waiting till things settle down and Blu-ray takes off in the marketplace."
Getting back to the iTunes software, version 9 is also said to allow iPhone and iTouch owners to arrange icons and applications from within iTunes, rather than having to do it on the device itself. iTunes 9 is also rumored to offer some kind of integration with Twitter, Facebook, and Last.FM, The Apple Blog reports.
DRM protection has been a bone of contention between content owners and anti-DRM activists. The latter party’s contentions seem to be becoming quite popular with content providers, with many music download services, including the august iTunes, opting for DRM-free music. However, DRM hasn’t been eliminated as a lot of downloadable content, including streaming/downloadable videos and streaming music, is still fettered by DRM protection.
“We reject the view that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so,” he wrote in a missive addressed to the Copyright Office’s top legal advisor.
It is quite unrealistic to expect online stores to perpetually maintain their DRM servers. But it is ludicrous to assume that shutting down of an authentication server or the whole online store is reason enough for the user to surrender his ownership rights.
Some Apple iTunes users who have AVG installed were in for a bit of surprise last weekend when the antivirus app alerted them to the presence of a Trojan in their music software and blocked it from loading. If you're one of those users, rest assured it was a false positive.
"Unfortunately, a recent virus database update resulted in iTunes being detected as a Trojan by AVG security products," the company explained in a statement. "We can confirm that it was a false alarm. AVG immediately released a new virus database update (definition file 270.13.29/2260) that corrected this issue."
The update came just five hours after the false positive was first reported and was "automatically released to all users by 5:30AM CET," AVG says. Prior to the update, AVG had placed several iTunes DLL files in quarantine, which prevented the music service from working.
If for some reason iTunes still isn't working after applying the update, AVG suggests restoring the deleted iTunes files from the AVG Virus Vault. To do this:
Open the AVG user interface
Choose "Virus Vault" option from the "History" menu
Locate the iTunes file that was incorrectly removed and select it (one click)
Palm managed to re-enable iTunes sync on the Pre barely days after Apple had managed to block it using iTunes update 8.2.1. The said update had ephemerally pulled the plug on the ability of non-Apple devices to sync with iTunes by rejecting all Vendor IDs apart from Apple’s.
Palm soon responded with an ingenious solution, the legality of which may be probed in coming days. Palm chose the WebOs 1.1 update and some USB trickery to deliver its riposte. The WebOs 1.1 update changes the USB Vendor ID associated with the Palm Pre to the one assigned to Apple. This hoodwinks iTunes into treating the Pre just like a legitimate Apple device.
“Palm believes that openness and interoperability offer better experiences for users by allowing them the freedom to use the content they own without interference across devices and services, so on behalf of consumers, we have notified the USB Implementers Forum of what we believe is improper use of the Vendor ID number by another member.” Palm told AllThingsD.
I installed 64-bit Windows 7 Beta on my machine, and up until this point, I’ve loved every minute of it. When I did the clean install, I downloaded the latest 64-bit version of iTunes, and everything seemed to be just fine. My old iPod was on the fritz, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I finally got around to buying a new iPod Nano and trying to sync it. The problems just exploded from there.
It took me almost three hours to get the new Nano to sync to my library correctly. Finally, I was able to get my music on there, but only on a single sync. Now when I try to make any changes to my iPod through iTunes (e.g., add new album art, sync any podcasts, etc.), it says “syncing iPod” for about three minutes and then I get the error “the iPod ‘name’ cannot be synced. The required disk cannot be found.” Odd, since iTunes still sees the iPod in the devices section.
I have noticed that when I connect my iPod to the USB port, it says “syncing” and then immediately says “disconnecting.” Is this just something with Windows 7? Do I need to run a virtual Windows XP in order to get my iPod to work correctly? Thanks for any help, guys!