Spotify offers free music on desktop computers with advertising but customers previously had to pay for on-demand connection on their mobile devices.
Its new service will allow listeners to choose the tracks they want to hear for free – with commercial interruptions – in the hope that people will upgrade to subscriptions.
“The more music you play, the more likely you will pay,” said Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek during a press conference at Spotify’s offices in New York.
Spotify has about 24 million active users around the world of which 6 million pay to listen to music without advertising.
Ek also announced Spotify launched in 20 new markets for a total of 55 markets worldwide.
As smartphones and tablets mushroom they have become choice devices to listen to music, even in the home, Ek said.
“It’s the one thing on my mind more than a year that had been bugging me,” Ek said about the proliferation of mobile devices and making Spotify available on them for free.
Streaming music has soared in popularity but competition is fierce with U.S. rival Pandora,Apple Inc’s iTunes Radio, Sirius XM, Rdio and a handful of smaller players all battling it out for listeners.
Revenues from mobile advertising at Pandora, which dominates the U.S. music streaming space and has over 70 million active listeners in three markets, have been rising as more people tune in on their smartphones.
Ek said that Spotify plans to air an ad every three or four songs, similar to the frequency of advertising spots on Spotify’s free desktop service.
Still, while consumers flock to streaming music services it has been difficult to turn a profit because of the cost to license music. Spotify strikes royalty deals with record labels and pays back about 70 percent of its revenue – already totaling $1 billion – to rights holders.
It’s a point that Spotify brings up often that usually coincides with the announcement of an artist or band that has chosen Spotify as a partner.
This year, that group is Led Zeppelin, whose entire catalog is now available to stream and on-demand exclusively on Spotify.
Last December Spotify announced that Metallica signed with the service – a notable addition since that group was once one of the leading crusaders more than a decade ago against the digital music sharing service Napster.
Previously, SugarSync offered users 5GB of free capacity. Users can still try the SugarSync service with a 90-day 5GB trial or a 30-day trial with higher capacities of 60GB or more.
SugarSync said the new policy will allow the company to further focus on “updates and improvements that better meet the evolving needs of its consumer and business subscribers.”
“There are many companies in this space that are giving away free storage However, most of these companies will not be viable. We are already in a solid financial position and this shift will further strengthen our business,” said SugarSync CEO Mike Grossman.
The change will let SugarSync better serve its “loyal” existing customers through new service enhancements.
SugarSync plans to release redesigned apps and additional features in the coming year.
The company will make existing and new 4K products the focus of its presentation at the event as it gears up for a major push of the technology in 2014, Phil Molyneux, president of Sony Electronics, told reporters in a recent briefing in San Francisco.
“We’re the only company in the world that allows you to shoot 4K content, edit it on our computers, play it back on our 4K TVs via HDMI,” he said. “We’ve built that eco-system out together with Vegas Pro so that people can come to Sony and have that unique experience.”
Sony is the only consumer electronics company to touch so many areas of the broadcast, movie and TV content chain. Through Sony Pictures it makes movies, its television arm produces several popular TV shows, it produces video hardware from professional through consumer for capturing content, and sells the televisions used to watch it.
But that doesn’t necessarily make Sony into a winner when it comes to 4K. In the portable audio market, it managed to cede the lead to Apple’s iPod despite having led the market for years with the Walkman, beaten Apple to market with a digital music player and had the backing of Sony Music.
Sony has spent the last few years trying to learn from those mistakes and says it’s in a much stronger position now.
What’s clear with 4K is that consumer demand is increasing, said Molyneux.
“When you see HD and you compare it with 4K, it’s a remarkable difference,” he said. “So you have to see it to really engage and believe it. If you look at the forecasted adoption rate of 4K over the last year, every three months the take-up rate on these reports have gone up and up and up.”
He attributed the rising consumer demand to falling prices of 4K televisions.
Spotify has had its knuckles rapped by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for an email that contained an uncensored “f” word.
The promotional email had the subject line, “Have you heard this song by Lily Allen? Give it a try. F-ck You”.
Contextually, the phrase refers to the song “Fuck You” on Lily Allen’s album “It’s Not Me, It’s You”, and the suggestion was genuine, generated automatically based on the listener’s previous selections.
Unfortunately, this particular Spotify customer chose to take it the wrong way and made a complaint to the ASA, which announced it would uphold the complaint on Wednesday.
Defending against the claim, Spotify said it “believed there was a clear difference between deliberate language use such as that and the context in which it was used in the ad” and that “…around 36 million recommendations were sent to users by e-mail every month and therefore over the years a significant proportion of its users would have had the same song recommended to them”.
However, the ASA had not received any other complaints, Spotify said. Upholding the complaint, the ASA ruled that it “considered the use of ‘Fuck’ was likely to cause serious offence to some recipients of such e-mails and therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code”.
Although no action is taken in isolated instances like this, the ASA chose to uphold the complaint “to ensure [Spotify's] future advertising contained nothing that was likely to cause serious or widespread offence”.
But what songs had this customer been listening to that would trigger this recommendation? Perhaps he or she is a fan of Cee Lo Green or the Dead Kennedys?
Spotify has responded to criticism of the royalty amounts it pays to music artists.
Music industry figures including Radiohead lead singer Thom Yorke have long called for fellow artists to boycott the Swedish music streaming service, which Yorke described as “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse”.
In launching the new Spotify For Artists website, Spotify has been proud to boast that it has paid out more than $1bn, over half of which it has paid in the past year. However, digging deeper the truth emerges that this equates to between $0.006 and $0.008 per play.
That’s fine if you’re Lady Gaga or Beyonce, but for musicians at the grassroots level this represents a massive hole in their finances. Or to put it in perspective, it would require a five piece band to be played 5,477 times just to be able to buy themselves a round of drinks. For a new, untested and undiscovered artist, that simply isn’t enough to get by.
A play on Great Britain’s BBC alternative radio station 6 Music nets an artist approximately five cents. Not a king’s ransom, but a huge amount compared to Spotify’s rates. In contrast, Bandcamp, the service designed to allow artists to self release their music, lets artists set their own prices for music, or even leaves it up to consumers to pay what they believe the work is worth.
This is the way that the internet is supposed to empower artists. The internet has made it possible for anyone to be a star, or at least make a living from their music, if they are good enough.
But accepting the payment of these tiny amounts of money is actually far worse for the industry than so-called ‘piracy’, because copyright infringement will always be considered wrong, while streaming for fractions of pennies normalises the practice of underpaying for creative talent and creates the kinds of gatekeepers that have made the giant music industry companies such a cartel. A cartel that is starting to implode.
Apple confirmed the acquisition but would not say why it purchased the company, which specializes in analyzing Twitter data and providing insights into current sentiment on a variety of topics.
The Wall Street Journal, which reported the news earlier, cited people familiar with the deal as saying Apple forked over more than $200 million.
“Apple buys smaller technology companies from time to time, and we generally do not discuss our purpose or plans,” spokeswoman Kristin Huguet said.
Topsy did not respond to requests for comment.
The iPad and iPhone maker often does what it calls “bolt-on” acquisitions, small deals to acquire technology that then gets integrated into existing or future products.
Apple’s main effort in social media has revolved around Ping, a music-centered social sharing network that was at one point integrated into its iTunes app. The service, which lets users post music tracks they liked to a newsfeed, didn’t catch on and was shut down.
But the California gadget maker has been increasingly making it easier for people to share photos, videos and news through its devices and directly to social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
It also operates iTunes Radio, an online streaming music service that competes with Pandora and could benefit from Topsy’s data on consumer sentiment.
Dubbed the “Google Winter Wonderlabs,” the showrooms are designed to be interactive spaces where potential customers can get their hands on Google products ranging from the Nexus 7 to the latest Chromebooks and Chromecast video streaming devices.
Google noted on the Winter Wonderlabs website that customers can place their orders right from the showroom.
The company also invites shoppers to take a break from holiday buying madness and hang out in their new showrooms to listen to music, watch videos, play games, and, of course, buy Google products.
For anyone who ever wanted to be inside a snow globe, they’re in luck.
Each one of the Winter Wonderlab showrooms will be outfitted with a human-sized igloo-looking “snow globe.” Visitors can step into it and create slow-motion videos — complete with fake snow — to keep and share.
The showrooms will be located in New York City, Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Paramus, N.J., and Sacramento, Calif.
Google also is building interactive showrooms on two barges — one docked in San Francisco and the other in Portland, Maine. The company plans to use the floating showrooms to not only show off its gadgets but also to bring attention to coastal businesses around the harbors where the barges are docked.
Construction work is underway on the barge docked in San Francisco. When that is completed, work is expected to begin on the East Coast barge.
Apps featuring indie rock band Metric, pop sensation Lady Gaga and the late John Lennon were released last week that allow fans to re-mix tracks, create music-inspired art or access rare recordings.
Toronto-based Metric’s new app, METRIC Synthetica, available on iOS devices, lets fans interact with music from the band’s new album using finger gestures to re-mix tunes and create their own music. Fans can toggle different instruments and speed up and slow down tracks, creating more of a conversation with the band.
“Music in the modern day is about a lot more than just the music itself,” said James Shaw, the lead singer of Metric and producer of the album.
“In the late 70s and 80s it was just about the record and that was it. But now it’s about being engaged in all sorts of different mediums,” he added.
Shaw said he is eager to hear the creations that others will make with his music.
“Our version will always be there. But now you can break a song down according to your own imagination and it brings depth and allows people’s imaginations to go into what the record is about and get a greater understanding of what they’re listening to,” he said.
The app is free and includes one song to re-mix. Each additional song costs 99 cents or $7.99 for 11 songs.
With Lady Gaga’s free app, ARTPOP, for iOS and Android, fans can create and share animated graphics and interact with each other. The app is a companion to Gaga’s latest album of the same name.
Another new app, John Lennon: The Bermuda Tapes, follows the former Beatle’s trip to Bermuda in 1980 to record his Double Fantasy album through audio and photographs. The app, which costs $4.99 and is available for iOS devices, features music and stories from Lennon and his widow, Yoko Ono.
ZTE said on Monday that it was preparing the device, and pointed to the first quarter as a probable date for its arrival. However, it gave no further details.
The company is better known in its home country of China as a low-price smartphone maker, but ZTE also has its eyes on the U.S. market, and wants to introduce more high-end phones while building up its brand recognition.
ZTE’s development of a smartwatch is no surprise, considering that many tech vendors are also coming out with rival devices. Samsung and Sony both have smartwatches on the market, at prices of $299 and $199, respectively. Apple has also long been rumored to be working on a watch.
The gadgets, however, still have some way to go before they catch on among consumers. Over 30 smartwatches are in development, according to research firm Gartner’s count, but the devices have yet to reach mass market appeal.
Current smartwatches are either priced too high, come in bulky designs, or don’t offer enough battery life, Gartner said in an October report. Vendors still need to offer a clear message about the advantages of owning a smartwatch.
In the year-end holiday shopping season, Gartner expects consumers to buy tablets over smartwatches. But over time, demand for the devices will grow, especially from health conscious users, the research firm predicted.
In the fitness and health segment, the wearable devices market is projected to reach US$5 billion in revenue by 2016, according to Gartner, and smartwatches will continue to remain “companion” devices to smartphones at least until 2017.
The smartwatch has a color screen and offers “multiple days” of battery life, Qualcomm said. The company has equipped the smartwatch with features such as a low-power screen in an effort to differentiate it from Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which also runs on Android.
Qualcomm did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether it would ship worldwide. But the company will also sell a premium version of the watch with a Bluetooth headset, potentially at a higher price.
Qualcomm has said the smartwatch will offer around 25 hours of battery life. The Toq weighs 90 grams (about 3 ounces) , and has a 1.55-in. diagonal color display, which shows images at a resolution of 288 x 192 pixels. The smartwatch will be able to work with a range of Android smartphones to show incoming messages and calls, weather information and also to play music over Bluetooth.
The screen is based on Qualcomm’s Mirasol technology, which is considered more power-efficient than the AMOLED screen on Samsung’s Gear smartwatch. Mirasol screens have been used in color e-books, and a handful of tablets. Those devices could run for days without recharging the battery.
The Toq will also have wireless charging. Qualcomm is one of the companies leading the development of WiPower, a wireless charging specification that allows for recharging of devices without placing them on charging pads.
Unlike Samsung’s Gear, however, the Toq does not have a built-in camera.
Toq was showcased earlier this year as an experimental product, and subsequently the company said it would be sold commercially. The Toq is intended to be a showcase for Qualcomm’s hardware and software products as the company looks to push its chips and wireless technologies into wearable devices.
The company announced in a Google+ that it’s rolling out a new voice command that will let users call up songs or tracks to listen to on Google Glass. In the next few weeks, Google will update Glass prototypes with the ability for users to pull up music simply by saying, “OK, Glass, listen to…”
“You can access your tracks from Google Play Music, including the millions of songs on All Access,” the company wrote in its post. “To all our Glass Explorers, sit tight. You’ll be able to dive into music on Glass soon. Look for an email in the next few weeks with more details.”
The company also unveiled stereo earbuds that have been designed specifically for Glass. Google is billing the earbuds as lightweight and “uniquely engineered” to give users quality sound, while also letting them hear their surroundings.
While earlier this year Google, which has been getting ready to launch a Glass app store, had been saying Glass would officially ship later this year, they’re now saying the computerized eyeglasses will ship next year.
A product like Glass needed to have a music feature, said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. “Music is just a given for all mobile devices,” he added. “It’s not an advantage, but lacking it is a disadvantage.”
This latest announcement is just part of the process of getting Glass ready to ship in 2014.
“Well, they’re still building the product,” said Gottheil. “It’s not ready for prime time but it’s getting there… Google is still experimenting with Glass.”
Google announced late last month that it plans to increase the number of people testing the Glass prototypes by inviting current users to invite three friends to do the same.
The new users will have to pay the $1,500 price tag for the computerized eyeglasses, but they’ll be able to join the original 8,000 Glass testers.
The NAO robot features Nuance’s Natural Language Understanding and text-to-speech and is slated to ship in early 2014.
The robot has a price tag of between $4,000 and $16,000, depending on its features and is only available to educational and research institutions.
Previously, the robot could speak just eight languages.
NAO is 23 inches tall, and can walk on varying surfaces, track and recognize faces and objects, express emotions and react to touch. It has a sophisticated sensor network, including two cameras, four microphones, a sonar rangefinder, two infrared emitters and receivers, one inertial board, nine tactile sensors, and eight pressure sensors. It can even brace itself with its arms if it falls.
The robot, which is powered by an Intel Atom 1.6 Ghz chip, runs a Linux kernel and supports Aldebaran’s proprietary middleware, which is programmable through the SDK that comes with it.
For example, the robot can be trained to dance to the song Gangnam Style by manipulating its arms and legs as the music plays. The movements are then identified with the music and the robot recognizes and executes them when it hears the song.
As a result of being integrated with Nuance’s voice recognition and text-to-speech service, Aldebaran will be able to create more interaction possibilities for future generations of robots, the two companies said.
“Nuance and Aldebaran have combined our voice and robotics innovations to showcase what’s possible for human-robot communication,” Bruno Maisonnier, Alderbaran Robotic’s CEO, said in a statement. “Our vision is to create even more intuitive and human-like interactions between man and machine as part of the NAO experience, in turn creating a wealth of new application opportunities for NAO and the next generation of robotic companions.”
The company said it will be able to “better develop how they will interact and engage in various settings, including education and special education environments with autistic children, and personal robotics.”
Amazon Elastic Transcoder was developed to offer an easy and low-cost way to convert media files from their source format into versions that will play on devices like smartphones, tablets and PCs.
The new feature lets anyone use Amazon Elastic Transcoder to convert audio-only content like music or podcasts from one format to another. Users can also strip out the audio tracks from video files and create audio-only streams. An option that, for example, can be used to create podcasts from video originals that are compatible with iOS applications that require an audio-only HTTP Live Streaming (HLS) file set, Amazon said.
The output from Elastic Transcoder is two-channel AAC, MP3 or Vorbis. Metadata like track name, artist, genre and album art is included in the output file and users can also specify replacement or additional album art.
Users of the service pay for the length of their converted content. For audio-only transcoding, prices start at $0.0045 per minute. That compares to the video version, which costs from $0.015 per minute for standard definition content and $0.03 per minute for high-definition clips, according to Amazon’s website.
For users who want to try out the service, the AWS Free Tier offers up to 20 minutes of free audio output per month. The service was announced for video in January and is still tagged as a beta.
You have seen that many companies that were selling SSD drives are slowly moving away from retail and etail consumer sales. Patriot and OCZ are among them and one of the key reasons is that Samsung has insanely attractive prices that are hard to fight.
Currently Samsung’s SSD 840 EVO series 250GB sells for about $2000, while Amazon in the US is selling the same drive for $177.99. The 120GB version in EU sells for €89.90 while US shops sell it for $99.99. Samsung offers a 500 GB SSD for $339.99 and at Newegg Mushkin, OCZ and similar priced or slightly cheaper but for 480GB drives. Toshiba Q series are the cheapest in this category with $319.99.
These are not the fastest or the cheapest drives on the market, but they are some of the most affordable per gigabyte and they offer quite good performance. In addition, consumers simply trust the Samsung brand and many of them are buying Samsung drives thanks to brand recognition, putting a lot of pressure on the smaller players. Just as it happened with the RAM memory market, profit margins on SSD drives went so low that you need to sell huge quantities to support your business model.
This is simply not a viable option for smaller players.
Samsung has its own chip production, has its own notebooks to put your drives in and it apparently is doing well in the market. Event close competitors are confirming that Samsung puts a lot of price pressure on everyone else. It sort of helps if you have your own NAND chip fabs.
The No. 2 U.S. mobile operator said on Friday the elimination of older plans for new customers would take effect on Oct 25. It said it was streamlining its offerings because the data-share plans are its most popular.
AT&T added that existing customers could keep their current plans, even when they are upgrading to a new device, unlike its biggest rival Verizon Wireless. Both companies introduced shared-data service plans in 2012.
Investors say these plans could help operators such as AT&T and Verizon retain customers at a time when competition is ramping up in the U.S. wireless industry.
In particular, AT&T is facing increasingly aggressive competition from No. 4 U.S. operator T-Mobile US Inc, which compares itself directly to AT&T in its marketing.
The idea of is that customers subscribing to shared-data plans might be less inclined to switch to another carrier if their cellular service for several devices, including smartphones and tablet computers, is attached a single plan.
Carriers also see the plans as a way to encourage subscribers to add more devices and increase how much they spend on cellphone service.