May 26 2010

Apple Controls 70% of US Music Downloads

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Apple’s iTunes music store controls a very large share of the US music market, according to NPD group, a market research firm. The iTunes store now has a 70 percent share share of music downloads, up one percentage point from 2009. The market share of Amazon’s download service, AmazonMP3, grew 4 percentage points and is currently at 12 percent.

This data will probably be of interest to antitrust regulators who are rumored to be in the early stages of an investigation against Apple. Apple allegedly pressured music companies to pull support for an Amazon promotion called “MP3 Daily Deal.” According to unnamed sources, a complaint from Amazon has sparked the inquiry.

According to an NPD analyst, however, Apple deserves its dominance in music downloads. “Apple came [into the digital download business] and did it right,” he said.

Overall, Apple’s iTunes counts for 28 percent of all music purchases, including both CDs and digital files.

Via Computerworld.

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Apr 30 2010

Rumor: Apple May Offer Cloud Music Service

Apple has just announced that it is shutting down Lala, the streaming music service it bought last December. This comes a little over a month before the developers conference in San Francisco at which Apple often announces major news. There is a lot of speculation among analysts that Apple may intend to offer a cloud-based music service soon.

Currently, iTunes users pay to download songs to their computers, then sync these new songs to mobile devices. But an Internet-based service would eliminate both the need to download songs and the need to have them on a computer first—users could stream them directly to their phones.

Some people believe that a cloud-based music service offered by Apple is nothing more than a rumor because Apple has not spoken with music executives about its plan, and a streaming service would require new licenses to be set up.

If Apple does eventually offer a streaming music service, it could have huge implications for the industry. Users would not need to download songs anymore, which could spell the end of the MP3. Storage space would no longer be an issue either, since the songs would be stored on a remote server. Though I would be willing to try out a streaming music service, I would like to have the option of downloading MP3 files of songs that I really like.

Via The Associated Press, image via Apple.

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Jan 8 2010

Inspired by Lala, Apple Makes Changes to iTunes

When Apple bought Lala back in December of last year, many analysts speculated that the acquisition of the streaming music platform would bring changes to iTunes. It appears that such speculation was accurate, as Apple is slowly but surely adding changes to iTunes, making it less application-based and more browser-based.

Apple now allows thirty-second song previews in web-based iTunes Charts, which was launched in November 2009. At first, you had to open up iTunes itself to hear song previews. Now you can listen to song previews right from your web browser (though QuickTime must be installed, as they are encoded in QuickTime format).

To buy the song, you still have to open up iTunes itself. I wonder how long it will be until we can buy iTunes music right from our browsers–it seems like this feature may eventually be available, especially since many people have speculated that Apple will use Lala to fully integrate iTunes into web browsers. Cheaper music and streaming options are also new features that analysts have speculated might show up in iTunes in the near future.

Via PC World, image via Apple.

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Dec 12 2009

How Apple’s Acquisition of Lala Could Change iTunes

Apple recently organized its upcoming purchase of Lala, a music streaming and download website. Lala currently gives users the option to download music for 89 cents, or buy a streamed-only version of a song for only ten cents.

This could carry a number of interesting implications for Apple’s extremely popular music application, iTunes. Nothing is definite yet, but here are some things iTunes users could be seeing in the near future:

1. Cheaper songs, streaming options. Hey, we can hope. It’s not like iTunes songs are expensive now, but it certainly wouldn’t bother any of us customers if Apple lowered their prices. And streaming would be great, too–I know there are certain songs that I like to listen to occasionally, so I’d be willing to pay a cheaper price to stream them every so often.

2. Full song previews. Apparently Lala allows users to hear full song previews before buying, in contrast to Apple, which only gives us 30-second previews. Sometimes 30 seconds simply isn’t enough time to hear a song. I’d certainly be happy with longer song previews.

3. Genius radio. Apple’s Genius feature in iTunes (which I personally have not used very much) recommends new songs based on your iTunes library. But if Apple added streaming to Genius, Genius would suddenly turn into a formidable challenge to Pandora. And Pandora has recently put a limit on how many free hours of music users can listen to. If Genius were more generous than Pandora, then Pandora had better watch out.

Of course, this is all pure speculation. But I do think it’s safe to say that Apple’s acquisition of Lala will change something regarding iTunes and the way Apple handles music.

Via PC World.

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