Oh snap, it's on like Donkey Kong, or at least like an intense level of Galaga. More specifically, Microsoft continues its advertising offensive against Apple with yet another commercial pointing out the cost of being hip, only this one targets iTunes and not MacBooks.
In the latest ad, financial planner (certified, of course) Wes Moss points out it would take $30,000 to fill the latest iPod using iTunes at a buck a pop.
"I don't know about you, but I don't have thirty grand laying around for music," Moss says.
His solution? A subscription service like Zune Pass, of course! "One costs a lot, and one costs a little," Moss adds, referring to the iPod with $30,000 worth of music and Zune Pass's unlimited subscription plan for $14.99/month. For those of you doing the math at home, $30,000 buys almost 167 years of Zune Pass.
There are obvious flaws in Microsoft's latest pitch, but the goal here isn't necessarily to discredit Apple's iPod/iTunes combination as a viable music platform (too late for that) as much as it is to promote Zune Pass. The question is, will it work?
Say it isn't so, Amazon! Taking a page from iTunes' recently announced (as in yesterday) variable pricing scale, Amazon has decided to follow suit just one day later. Boo, hiss!
Apple's iTunes yesterday introduced a variable pricing model where songs sell for $0.69, $0.99, and $1.29. The move earned Amazon some short-lived praise for staying under a buck, but that all goes out the window today.
To be fair, the blame more than likely goes to the music studios, who may have raised prices in exchange for serving up DRM-free titles. Amazon and Apple aren't alone in switching to variable pricing, as it appears to have also affected Real's Rhapsody store and Lala. Prices are up at Wal-Mart too, with some songs reaching $1.24.
Reactions to what looks like an industry-wide price hike? Hit the jump and sound off.
As in previous surveys, respondents recognize that people are both an organization’s greatest asset as well as its weakest link. But security vigilance is even more important in hard economic times, when the increased stress levels can lead people to behave in atypical ways.
Ever since Amazon launched its music store back in September 2007, everyone assumed its discounted prices and DRM free catalog was a result of the music industries dissatisfaction with Apples dominance. With iTunes being the primary management software for the most popular MP3 player on the planet, Amazon knew it would need an edge to stay competitive. The 10 cent per track discount was a nice touch, but techies and audio enthusiasts alike were eager to switch if it meant we could free our music. Most of us assumed the DRM restrictions on iTunes would remain for the forcible future, but now that this has turned out not to be the case what else wasn’t true?
Well, according to unnamed sources cited by CNET, everybody selling downloadable music is also paying the same wholesale price. Though it has never been confirmed, many believe Apple makes but a few pennies per .99 cent download. If this is indeed true, anything else sold below this price might actually be a loss leader. Now with iTunes discounting its back catalog of tracks to a mere .69 cents, and at comparable bit rates, it’s well positioned to steal back business from Amazon. NPD senior industry analyst Russ Crupnick claims the two services don’t impact each other as much as we might think, but at the very least it certainly makes switching from iTunes to a separate web store much less desirable then it used to be.
Now that iTunes has gone DRM free, and has begun to discount its back catalog of tracks, can Amazon still compete?
When Build 7000 of Windows 7 leaked onto the Internet recently, some bloggers speculated that Microsoft had deliberately leaked Build 7000. If that's the case, Redmond has some 'splainin' to do: numerous users have reported that Windows Media Player 12 (the media player included in Windows 7) corrupts some MP3 files.
Microsoft is aware of the bug and is working on a patch, but if you've decided not to wait for an official Beta 1 of Windows 7, what should you do in the meantime to protect your MP3 collection? Join us after the jump to learn how to protect your precious rips and purchased files - and for your chance to tell us if this has happened to you.
Remember the scene in War of the Worlds where everyone's electronics inexplicably just stop working? It turned out to be an alien invasion intent on harvesting the human race that was causing all the ruckus. We're fairly confident there aren't any buried alien war machines in real life, so why then are hundreds of users suddenly complaining about failed Zune players?
According to Gizmodo, the failures are permeating all across the country starting at about midnight last night. Owners claiming to be affected by the as-yet unexplained glitch are reporting that their Zune players freeze while loading and become completely unresponsive, turning their music player into little more than a high tech paperweight.
With the New Year only a day away, users have begun referring to the failures as the Y2K9 bug. However, any relation to the calendar year would likely be coincidental given that the players started giving up the ghost a day before the new year rings in.
Seemingly ruling out the possibility of a widespread hoax, Microsoft has released a statement regarding the failures:
"We are aware that customers with the Zune 30GB are experiencing issues with their Zune device. We are actively working now to isolate the issue and develop a solution to address it. We will keep customers informed on next steps via the support page on zune.net (zune.net/support)."
Hit the jump and let us know if you've experienced the same issue.
While it might not be a major setback for the Recording Industry Association of America, a federal judged has denied the RIAA's appeal for a mistrial against Jammie Thomas, the only person ever to go to trial after being charged with copyright infringement by the RIAA.
Jammie Thomas initially made headlines earlier this year when a jury found her guilty of violating copyright laws and was ordered to pay a staggering $220,000 to six of the top music labels. Thomas was accused of sharing more than 1,700 songs, but despite the moral ambiguity, public opinion tended to view the verdict as obscenely high.
Just weeks after the verdict was handed down, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis overturned the ruling on the basis that he had misguided the jury by indicating that the act of making a copyrighted song available was enough to constitute infringement. While a new trial has been scheduled for March, the RIAA appealed the judge's decision and asked that it be declared a mistrial.
It will be interesting to see what long-term implications this current setback has on the RIAA. Just weeks ago, the RIAA announced it would try a new tactic in thwarting copyright infringement. Rather than continuing to sue individuals like Jammie Thomas, the RIAA said it would start working with ISPs to send out warnings to those suspected of illegally sharing music. After three warnings, the ISPs would cut off internet service.
Meanwhile, a retrial is still scheduled for March, and it would be hard to imagine the losing side not appealing the verdict. That means we're still a long ways off from knowing the true implications of the Jammie Thomas saga.
Remember when your great-great-great grandparents used to trek barefoot through miles of freezing snow in the scorching hot desert just for the privilege of purchasing a music CD from the music store that sat on top of a mountain? Maybe that's slightly exaggerating the situation, and while many of you still prefer to own physical media, downloading tracks has become the norm when it comes to purchasing groovy tunes. According to statistics compiled by Will Page, chief economist of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, and Andrew bud, the head of mobile software company mBlox, there are roughly 13 million songs available for download. But only a small fraction make up the majority of downloads.
With so many songs to choose from, you might think the wealth is being spread around. But surprisingly, just 52,000 songs make up for 80 percent all music purchased online. The distribution becomes even more lopsided when looking at albums, with 85 percent of bands and singers who released an album in 2008 not having sold a single copy.
"There is an eerie similarity between a digital and high-street retailer in terms of what constitutes an efficient inventory and the shape of their respective demand curves," Andrew Bud told the Times. "I think there's something more going on there: a case of new schools meets old schools."
What are you listening to that might be off the beaten path? Post your favorite non-mainstream hits below and help your fellow readers expand their music collection.
When you find a groovy tune, it's a tough task to turn the dial down below ear shattering levels, and if that statement needed any quantifiable proof, it now has it. According to a study for the European Union, personal music players are threatening permanent hearing loss for as many as 10 million Europeans.
A team of nine experts on the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks conducted the study and warned that most young people aren't aware of the damage until years after it's already done.
"Regularly listening to personal music players at high-volume settings when young often has no immediate effect on hearing but is likely to result in hearing loss later in life," the report said.
Listening to music for just five hours a week at high-volume settings can expose your ears to more noise than permitted in the loudest factory or workplace, and if you have a particularly good set of headphones, cranking up the volume to its highest setting can punish your hears as much as the sound of an airplane taking off.
The new study is one of just several to warn of long-term hearing loss among today's youth, but the older generation might be just as susceptible. Some estimates put the total number of EU residents listening to portable music players at anywhere from 50 million to 100 million out of a total population of 500 million.
If you can't avoid the temptation to avoid cranking up the volume, you might consider investing in crappier music.
If you've ever owned a Jack-in-the-Box, then you're already trained on how to use Trevor Baylis' Eco Media Player Revolution. But rather than being traumatized by some creepy crown, you'll instead be rewarded with about 45 minutes of music in return for one minute of cranking on the integrated handle.
This second generation media player comes ready to handle just about any media format you can toss at it, including MP3, AAC, WMA, WAV, and OGG, along with AVI, MP4, and WMV video formats. The company says the 4GB of internal flash memory will store up to 2,000 songs, and an SD card slot gives users the ability to double up the storage ante.
Getting back the hand-crank, not only does it power the Revolution, but it can give your cell phone a quick boost too. A minute of cranking earns you about 5 minutes of talk time, provided one of the five included adapters fits your brand of phone.
What are your thoughts on this thing? Hit the jump and let us know.