Steve keeps the goods coming with the announcement of an iTunes update that will be available later today. iTunes 5.0 includes a host of updates, some major, others subtle. One change within the Music Store is the addition of album reviews. There are already at least 1000 album reviews in version 5.0, so it shouldn’t be too hard to see what they look like once the download becomes available. On the Windows side of things, iTunes will now be able to sync Outlook contact and calendar data to the iPod (iTunes Mac has been doing this with Address Book and iCal). There are also improvements to how iTunes handles shuffled music, adding in a Smart Shuffle feature, allowing you to tweak just how random you want the music to be.
During this morning’s keynote, Steve Jobs just announced a new iPod that is inspired by a third party. With the announcement that all six Harry Potter novels will be available in audio form exclusively to the iTunes Music Store, Steve also made it known that Apple has made a Harry Potter iPod, which will have Hogwart’s crest etched into the back. The Apple Store is now down, which means that we can expect to see the Harry Potter iPod, along with the other new products being introduced, within the next couple of hours.
The Music Genome Project is behind this service. It used to be an invitation only service, similar to Gmail, and its features that sound pretty impressive. It uses an end-user rating system where you rate whether you like what is playing or not.
A new service allowing you to create your own radio station, shareable with friends, and made up with as many, custom-created and personalized music-channels as you like has made its public debut in the last few hours.
Basically, it’s like Yahoo! Launch, except extremely customizable and sharable. This cool service costs $36 for a year or $12 for 3 months.
Those pesky music industry execs are at it again - and this time they’re looking not to take on file-swapping college kids or bootlegged CDs. Their next target? Apple’s wildly popular iTunes music service, which revolutionized and breathed life back into the (legal) music market with their simple pricing scheme (.99 per song, no matter what song it is) and easy-to-use service. The industry, who once hailed iTunes as a savior of sorts, now seem to have changed their… well… tune.
A sore point for some music executives is the fact that Apple generates much more money selling iPod players than it does as a digital music retailer, leading to complaints that Mr. Jobs is profiting more from tracks downloaded to fill the 21 million iPods sold so far than are the labels that produced the recordings.
Andrew Lack, the chief executive of Sony BMG, discussed the state of the overall digital market at a media and technology conference three months ago and said that Mr. Jobs “has got two revenue streams: one from our music and one from the sale of his iPods.”
“I’ve got one revenue stream,” Mr. Lack said, joking that it would require a medical professional to locate. “It’s not pretty.”
Excuse me while I laugh myself stupid. I’m sure Mr. Lack is nowhere near the soup kitchen, if he’s the chief executive of Sony BMG. I read things like this and just about always fail to see where these top-dollar executives find the sense of entitlement they always seem to develop as soon as anyone besides them is making any money.
Read More | NY Times
Our sister site, I4U News, has a great story on a post of a more literal sense - the iPod dock made from a tree. The dock is made from an actual log and features stereo speakers poking out from either end, used to play music from the iPod which can be docked in it’s top. This brings to mind a calming evening at home listening to the classics on an audiobook. Were I to have one I would keep it in the fireplace - the perfect statement about technology and nature blended together.
This one is a throwback to the days of simpler, static-ier, music. The Crosley Traveler Turntable is a portable, all-in-one jukebox that will hold and switch out 6 records of similar size and speed using Crosley’s Stack-O-Matic technology. The turntable even has speakers built-in to the sides, so all you need to add is the electricity (AC adapter provided) and music. At $180 USD, it’s like an iPod shuffle for Grandpa!
For everyone holding their breath for a Rhapsody-type subscription service from Apple: stop before you pass out. According to information from two music executives received by BusinessWeek Online, Apple has no plans to enter the subscription-based service arena any time soon. The major factor in Apple sticking to its by-the-song download system in iTunes is its market dominance – iTunes is making huge profits from its 500 million+ song downloads, comparatively crushing the 2 or 3 million subscribers to Real’s Rhapsody or Napster’s services. The only thing that looks like it could change Apple’s mind would be true financial competition from one of these services, a factor that is still far off.
Read More | BusinessWeek Online
Harmony, a digital rights management translation system created by Real Networks which allows its own music formats to run on Apple iPods, may be the cause of some legal and technical issues for Real in the coming months. The company has admitted that although they believe that their software is completely legal, any disagreement from Apple that runs into a court process might jeopardize their bottom line. The company already expects to pay around $16 million in the coming year defending their software from litigation from Microsoft, but cannot afford any more. Additionally, Real also expects problems as Apple makes moves to update its software in ways that would require tweaking of Harmony’s specifications. Basically, it sounds like Harmony may represent Real biting off a bigger chunk than it can chew at this point. Stay tuned to see how these impending challenges pan out.
Read More | Macworld
For all you XM radio fans out there, Delphi has released the smallest and lightest XM radio yet for your portable needs. The RoadyXT comes with a car kit, and it’s quite easy to integrate it into your home stereo system with an additional adapter. I really wish that with a slim form factor like this they could include a small battery to let you plug in a pair of headphones and carry it around with you. Still - at only $99 this looks like a great option for anyone wanting to add a little XM goodness to their lives.
Debuting with prices ranging from ¥200 and ¥300 per song ($1.80 and $2.70), Apple has exploded onto the Japanese digital audio scene by selling over 1 million songs with the new service in under four days. Proudly, Japanese artists grabbed the honors for both the top-downloaded song (Def Tech) and the top-downloaded album (Ulfuls). Steve Jobs was quick to point out that the four-day business enjoyed by the Japanese iTunes dwarfs even a month’s worth of business on any other Japanese service. With the struggles that other American companies, such as Microsoft, have had breaking into some Japanese markets, Apples success in this area could bode very well for the company.
Read More | MacWorld