Sandeep Venugopal’s Weblog

August 11, 2008

Onebox: Google’s free music search in China! Cool!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 7:47 pm
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Google Inc. said Wednesday that it has launched a music search service in China that allows users to access music legally online in a forum backed by some record labels and supported by advertising revenue. Paid music downloads in China are virtually nonexistent, and Apple Inc.’s iTunes digital music store is not offered there. Downloadable pirated versions of songs are widely available for free online. Google’s service, called Music Onebox, directs users to Top100.cn, a site that names as an investor basketball star Yao Ming, to download or stream music for free. Users outside China are blocked from accessing the music.

Top100.cn is a Beijing-based Web site that already has licensing agreements with about 100 labels. Talks are ongoing with Sony BMG and Warner Music Group Corp. to become partners. “This legal music service will help users avoid dead links, slow downloads, inaccurate search results, and poor quality or incomplete songs,” Google said in a statement. Google said it is not participating in any of the advertising revenue from the site. The International Federation of Phonographic Industries says more than 99 percent of all music files distributed in China are pirated. It says that despite China’s large potential market, the country’s legitimate sales of $76 million a year account for less than 1 percent of global sales.

Source: Reuters, Martin

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July 20, 2008

Amazon to offer streamed movies and TV! Sweet…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 8:50 pm
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Amazon.com has opened the Amazon Unbox, removing the need to download content and instead streaming it to customer’s televisions sets. Called Amazon Video on Demand, it is expected to be introduced Thursday, The New York Times reports. Apple’s iTunes store and Amazon’s initial foray required customers to download movies before they could begin watching them. Amazon Video on Demand streams the content, eliminating the wait. To access the service, potential users will have to purchase a $300 Internet video link, which is offered by Sony Bravia. Currently, Sony is the only company to support the service, but Amazon is working with other vendors to come on board. Amazon’s initial offering will include 40,000 movie and television titles.

Amazon joins Netflix, Microsoft and Apple in the digital video fray, as each company continues to expand their footprint in the living room. Apple iTunes is a well-known entity and, paired with the recently updated Apple TV, has a head start. However, the competition for streaming video is stiffening. Microsoft and Netflix recently announced a partnership that will allow users to stream video through their Xbox. Customers must have an Xbox Gold membership to take advantage of the 10,000 movies and television shows that the pairing will offer.

Source: CRN, Martin

iPhone 3G: long lines, activation problems!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 8:30 pm
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The launch of Apple Inc.’s much-anticipated new iPhone turned into an information-technology meltdown on Friday, as customers were unable to get their phones working. “It’s such grief and aggravation,” said Frederick Smalls, an insurance broker in Whitman, Mass., after spending two hours on the phone with Apple and AT&T Inc., trying to get his new iPhone to work. In stores, people waited at counters to get the phones activated, as lines built behind them. Many of the customers had already camped out for several hours in line to become among the first with the new phone, which updates the one launched a year ago by speeding up Internet access and adding a navigation chip. A spokesman for AT&T, the exclusive carrier for the iPhone in the U.S., said there was a global problem with Apple’s iTunes servers that prevented the phones from being fully activated in-store, as had been planned.

Instead, employees are telling buyers to go home and perform the last step by connecting their phones to their own computers, spokesman Michael Coe said. However, the iTunes servers were equally hard to reach from home, leaving the phones unusable except for emergency calls. The problem extended to owners of the previous iPhone model. A software update released for that phone on Friday morning required the phone to be reactivated through iTunes. When the first iPhone went on sale a year ago, customers performed the whole activation procedure at home, freeing store employees to focus on sales. But the new model is subsidized by carriers, and Apple and AT&T therefore planned to activate all phones in-store to get customers on a contract.

Souce: AP, Martin

June 21, 2008

Apple iTunes tops 5 billion sold songs!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 10:47 pm
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Apple on Thursday said music sales on its iTunes store have topped 5 billion songs, and visitors are renting and purchasing more than 50,000 movies each day. Apple, which has surpassed Wal-Mart as the leading music retailer in the United States, put out a brief press release on the latest numbers, offering no further details. The company has a catalog of more than 8 million songs, 20,000 TV shows, and 2,000 films, including 350 in high-definition format. In announcing on April 3 that it had surpassed Wal-Mart, Apple said that it had sold more than 4 billion songs through iTunes. Given that announcement was 77 days ago, that would mean the company has sold nearly 13 million songs a day since then. Apple was not immediately available for comment.

Apple has gotten in trouble before for its iTunes math. In late April, the company said it offered 10 million songs on its 5-year-old store, but later ratcheted the number down to 6 million songs. In August 2007, the company said it had 5 million songs. Apple’s movie collection includes titles from 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Sony Pictures Television International, and Lionsgate. ITunes will rent and sell movies on the same day as their DVD release. Customers using Mac or Windows operating systems must have iTunes 7.6.2 or higher to buy or rent the movies.

Source: InfoWeek, Martin

May 15, 2008

MS Zune to block copyrighted videos! Grrrr…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 7:12 pm
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If you like to download the latest episodes of “Heroes” or other NBC shows from BitTorrent, maybe you shouldn’t buy a Microsoft Zune to watch them on. A future update of the software for Microsoft’s portable media player may well include a feature that will block unauthorized copies of copyrighted videos from being played on it. Tuesday, Microsoft announced that it would start selling video programming for the Zune, mainly TV shows. These include programs from NBC Universal, which has pulled its shows off Apple’s iTunes Store. Late Tuesday afternoon I reached J. B. Perrette, the president of digital distribution for NBC Universal, to ask why NBC found Microsoft’s video store more appealing than Apple’s.

He explained that NBC, like most studios, would like the broadest distribution possible for its programming. But it has two disputes with Apple. First, Apple insists that all TV shows have an identical wholesale price so that it can sell all of them at $1.99. NBC wants to sell its programs for whatever price it chooses. Second, Apple refused to cooperate with NBC on building filters into its iPod player to remove pirated movies and videos. Microsoft, by contrast, will accept NBC’s pricing scheme and will work with it to try to develop a copyright “cop” to be installed on its devices. More info at NY Times – and official reply from Microsoft.

May 3, 2008

Apple will sell new movies through iTunes!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Sandeep @ 12:27 am
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Apple, maker of the iPod media player, said yesterday that it would start selling movies through its iTunes online store the same day they are released on DVD. New releases from studios, including Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros., will cost $14.99, Apple said in a statement. Previously, customers had to wait several weeks after the DVDs debuted. The service will start with such movies as “American Gangster” and “Juno” this week. Chief executive Steve Jobs is counting on movies to increase sales of iPods, Macintosh computers and Apple TV devices, which let users watch downloaded films on their widescreen televisions. In January, Jobs said customers had bought 7 million movies, which was below his expectations.

Apple began selling movies and television shows on iTunes in October 2005. “People want to watch a movie as soon as it comes out, and they don’t want to have to wait,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at JupiterResearch in New York. “What Apple is doing is knocking down one more barrier for why you wouldn’t want to buy a movie from them.” New titles will also be available from News Corp.’s Twentieth Century Fox, Walt Disney Co., Universal Studios, Sony Pictures, Lionsgate, Image Entertainment and First Look Studios.

Source: Washington Post, Martin

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