MG Siegler May 18, 2011
With regard to their cloud music offering, it looks like Apple is now just about ready to rock and roll. It would seem that this is now coming together even faster than they anticipated. And that may be thanks to two unlikely sources: Google and Amazon.
CNet’s Greg Sandoval is reporting tonight that Apple has signed an agreement with music label EMI to offer its music through Apple’s upcoming new cloud music service. This means that Apple now has agreements in place with two of the four major labels (Warner signed last month). And Sandoval believes that deals with the remaining two, Sony and Universal, could be wrapped up as early as next week. Again, rock and roll.
With those deals in place, it means that Apple will be free to launch their cloud service anytime they please. And while we had heard the initial plan was to do so at their annual music event in the early fall, Apple could indeed move the launch up to WWDC in early June (just a few weeks from now). We haven’t heard anything definitive about this either way, but you can bet that Apple is thinking about it.
It would be a pretty savvy move. One that would make their rivals look bad. Really bad.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — In early 2008, in the early days of the iPhone era, Google engineers began noticing something unusual in the search engine’s logs. Owners of these new phones were doing a huge number of Web searches.
But there was a problem: searching on a phone was less than ideal. It was hard to type on small screens. And most irritating for Google, which brags about its speed on every page of search results, was that Web pages were slow to load on phones.
So Google started a project it code-named Grand Prix. In six weeks, engineers revamped mobile searching and hatched plans for new ways to search on the go, by talking or taking photos instead of typing.
The stakes were high. Mobile phones could be a huge new market for Google. Or they could provide an opening for a competitor to pounce, or obviate the need for a search engine altogether. If people on phones could go straight to apps for information, why Google anything?
Today, Google says mobile searches are growing as quickly as Web searches were at the same stage in the company’s early days, and they are up sixfold in the last two years. Google has a market share of 97 percent for mobile searches, according to StatCounter, which tracks Web use.
Now that it dominates the field, Google is throwing its burly computing power and heaps of data at new problems specific to mobile phones — like translating phone calls on the fly and recognizing photos of things like plants and items of clothing.
99-Cent Titles From Unknown Authors Put New Pressure on Big Publishers
By JEFFREY A. TRACHTENBERG
The nation's largest book publishers are facing increasing pricing pressure on the digital front as the number of cheap, self-published digital titles gain popularity with readers seeking budget-minded entertainment.
Big book publishers are facing increasing pricing pressure on the digital front as the number of cheap, self-published digital titles gain popularity with readers. Digits discusses with Jeff Trachtenberg.
Amazon.com Inc.'s top 50 digital best-seller list featured 15 books priced at $5 or less on Wednesday afternoon. Louisville businessman John Locke, for example, a part-time thriller writer whose signature series features a former CIA assassin, claimed seven of those titles, all priced at 99 cents.
"They're training their customers away from brand name authors and are instead creating visibility for self-published titles," one senior publishing executive who asked not to be identified, says of Amazon.
As digital sales surge, publishers are casting a worried eye towards the previously scorned self-published market. Unlike five years ago, when self-published writers rarely saw their works on the same shelf as the industry's biggest names, the low cost of digital publishing, coupled with Twitter and other social-networking tools, has enabled previously unknown writers to make a splash.
The issue of pricing has been paramount since Amazon launched its Kindle e-reader in November 2007. The device exploded, driven by the wide appeal of $9.99 digital best-sellers that were available on the same day as the hardcover edition.
By Barney Jopson and David Gelles in New York
Amazon will let users of its Kindle e-reader borrow electronic books from two-thirds of US libraries as it seeks to broaden the device’s appeal in the face of competition from Apple’s iPad and rival tablets.
The world’s largest online retailer said that from later this year, customers would be able to borrow e-books from libraries and read – and annotate – them on a Kindle or any other device to which users have downloaded a Kindle app.
Amazon’s move intensifies questions about the commercial threat the growing popularity of e-readers poses to traditional book publishers, which have acknowledged a concern that e-book lending might cannibalise sales of books.
US public libraries have spent several years building up their e-book collections, which have been accessible to users of Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Sony’s Reader device. But until now they have not worked with the Kindle.