Business Week refutes FT.com’s Apple story, quotes “people in a position to know”

March 20, 2008

Yesterday I posted a story from the FT that basically says Apple and the labels are talking about an unlimited download subscription for people who buy and iPod or iPhone. Angry about being scooped Bussiness Week posted a story saying the Financial Times has either been speaking with Snoop Dog or smoking his stuff, cause the Apple story was bull. Where is their evidence you ask?

Reports that Apple is discussing an “all-you-can-eat” subscription music service with major record labels are overblown, say people in a position to know.

Thats right they are refuting the Financial Times story by paraphrasing an HR Block tag line. They got people? Wait you say, surely Business Weeks has more evidence then that, they must have a quote, a named source, something more substantial. Here it is, the smoking gun:

[The Apple unlimited subscription] would use that premium to create a pool of revenue, a portion of which would be divided among the major music labels, the newspaper said.

Trouble is, no such talks are under way, according to people familiar with Apple’s plans. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. Insiders at major music labels were similarly dismissive.

So lets review, “people in a position to know” told Business Week’s Arik Hesseldahl that nothing was going on between Apple and the labels and this version of the story was corroborated by “people familiar with Apple’s plans”. The PR Flacks at Apple and the labels hung-up everytime Arik called them and he took it as evidence that the Financial times was wrong.

Now I’m not saying that the FT story was some great piece of reporting or that I necessarily believe all of it, but Business Week needs raise its game a bit. When a venerable news weekly with ungodly sums of money and decades worth of reporting experience sitting on its bench runs with poorly researched crap with no credible citations or sources, its no better then a blog. I dont want major weeklies running with innuendo, rumor and hearsay. Thats what I’m here for. I want them to give me some facts with names of real people attached to them, so I can poke holes and look for flaws or fallacies. There is a reason bloggers are not journalist and its really important that the journalist remember that.


Flagging music industry seeks reincarnation as iPod upsell

March 19, 2008

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The once haughty recorded music industry has finally collapsed under the weight of its own greed and inefficiency. We can officially call the industry dead, not when the companies are shuttered (because a number of them will survive), but when their main business model is radically different. According to an article in todays Financial Times the music industry is edging ever closer to signing a deal with Apple Computers which may do just that.

The article discusses a deal the two sides are trying to hammer out to shift the labels economics from collecting money based on the number of songs/CD’s that are sold to collecting money based on the number of iPod’s or iPhone’s thats are sold. Its a complex deal that the article emphasizes may not get done, however for the labels to even consider it highlights how very desperate they’ve become. This deal would certainly spell the end of the traditional record labels as their status as added value intermediaries (ie important middlemen) fades even further. Also read a related article which is a bit of a counter-point to the first article albeit with little new information.


Liberate iTunes (and all your media) with DoubleTwist

February 19, 2008

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A couple of years ago a kid from Norway, named Jon Lech Johansen, broke the encryption put on DVD’s to stop people from coping them onto their computers. A year or so later he did the same thing to the iTunes music store and made it possible for folks to share their music purchases. He was pretty unpopular with the big media companies but geek-boys the world over loved him, so he went legit and started a venture backed company. However, going legit isnt what it used to be. His latest application, let’s you share your music and other media with friends and family no matter what device they might be using. The new application called doubleTwist allows you to convert all your iTunes purchases to plain old mp3′s for you can shares them across devices. and it help you manage that process. The application is still in beta (early beta if the number of crashes I’ve had is any indicator) so you might want to check out the PDF press release here , the blog reaction here or the early articles here and here.

Thanks to the erudite scholar and gentleman, david touve for the tip.


Greenpeace Wags Its Finger at Apple’s iPhone

October 16, 2007

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I should have known by the tepid headline that there really was no story here but I got sucked in nonetheless. The headline screamed “Scientific tests reveal iPhone contains hazardous chemicals and materials“. Not exactly what I want to hear about such a beautiful product, but I bet the phones radiation kills me before its toxins. The release, put out yesterday by Greenpeace, is accompanied by a PDF report which actually has a slightly different conclusion then the release.

Here is the conclusion from the report:
“Of the 18 different internal and external components and materials tested from an Apple iPhone purchased in the USA in June 2007, all would appear to be compliant with the requirements of the EU’s Directive on use of certain hazardous substances in electronics and electrical goods (the RoHS Directive).”

Here is the opener from the release:
“An independent scientific laboratory tested 18 internal and external components of the iPhone and confirmed the presence of brominated compounds in half the samples, including in the phone’s antenna, in which they (1) made up 10 per cent of the total weight of the flexible circuit board. A mixture of toxic phthalate esters (2) was found to make up 1.5 per cent of the plastic (PVC) coating of the headphone cables.”

While I agree with Greenpeace on the need for Steve and his team at Apple, to make their products more earth friendly this release was the wrong way to do it. First, it assumes that no one will bother to read the full report and note that the emphasis in the release is a bit over-reaching. There is a time for the carrot and a time for the stick, this was an opportunity to use the carrot with Apple and the good folks at Greenpeace blew it.


Suicide Watch: Universal Music Demands Customers Use P2P

July 2, 2007

umg_logo.jpgYesterday Big JG, the soup eater, posted a note about Universals Music’s mad dash to ends its tortured existence as the worlds largest purveyor of little plastics discs. In an act of classic Seppuku, Universal Music is reported to have told Apple that it was not going to renew its contract to sell music through iTunes. The move comes as a bit of a shock given that the Universal is reported to net somewhere in the $200 million dollar range through iTunes sales. Apple’s steadfast refusal to allow the labels to “wet their beaks” from iPod sales is widely believe to be the main reason behind the move by Universal.

There are two huge problems with Universal’s withdrawal from iTunes. First, they are the only ones doing it. Both Sony/BMG and EMI are on board with Apple and Warner Music is bleeding money and employees so fast it wouldnt dare walk away from any source of income. Second, by refusing to sell its music through iTunes, universal will not effect the consumption of its music, iPod sales or iTunes popularity. People will just get the content that isnt on iTunes they way they get 70-80% of the content on their iPod, from CD’s and P2P networks. The big loser therefore can only be Universal Music, which stands to loose a couple hundred million dollars along with a couple million paying customers. In these lean times for the music industry turning away either is the fastest way to quick death I can think of.

Here is a simple law of survival economics that all digital entertainment business MUST LEARN! “A little money is better then NO money.”


Enhance iPhone’s Hardware with Playboy’s Software

June 29, 2007

Ok I saw this press release today and couldnt resist. Read the full release after the jump.

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YouTube Live on AppleTV iPhone Next

June 20, 2007

758.jpgIn a release put this morning Apple acknowledged the much rumored link between AppleTV and YouTube. The release stressed that while AppleTV + YouTube was cool iPhone + YouTube is killer. As the Apple’s marketing machine gears up for next weeks launch of the iPhone I wonder what other announcements are in store. From the 8 hour battery life to YouTube connectivity, Apple seems to have a series of high wow factor announcements up its sleeves.

Read the Apple YouTube press release after the jump:

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iPhone Teaser

April 3, 2007

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I got this email from Apple today thanking me for signing up, 3 months ago, to get news about the launch, 2 months from now, of their $600 phone, that I wont be buying. Do I want an iPhone? Yes. Did this email remind me of that desire and further stoke those flames? Yes, again. Will I stamp out that desire? Hell, yeah! If you suffer from iPhone lust, one of the 7 deadly geek sins, all you have to do is remind yourself that after just one fall, splash, crash or slip your $600 work of art becomes just another expensive brick. For all its beautiful looks and interesting functionality I predict that these things are as brittle as a CEO’s ego. While I’m sure they be tons more successful then the Zune I’m still gonna wait till prices drop and and specs improve before adding to Jobs family trust.


EMI Goes DRM Free. Offers MP3 trade-in. Really!

April 2, 2007

images.jpgI know I couldnt believe it myself. But unless everyone from the BBC to the WSJ has gotten it wrong its no joke. Sure it was first reported by the good folks that brought you the RARA joke but thats just a coincidence. The jist of this is that EMI will be releasing DRM free versions of some of its catalogue on iTunes. From the press release come news of their upgrade program:

Consumers who have already purchased standard tracks or albums with DRM will be able to upgrade their digital music for $0.30/€0.30/£0.20 per track. All EMI music videos will also be available on the iTunes Store DRM-free with no change in price.

Its only taken 10 years for one of the labels to finally give-in and that seems to only have happened with the prodding of iPod/iTunes maven Steve Jobs, who was on hand with the iPhone to show of the new EMI tracks. EMI remains the only major to make this transition but watch for the others to follow lemming like their decision within the year.

EMI has started down the road to building a digital music business by tearing down one of the many roadblocks to competing with free alternatives. Its a start. So happy trails EMI and best of luck.


MAJOR RECORD LABELS WITHDRAW FROM RIAA

April 1, 2007

garland_logo-1.gifThis amazing bit of news was forwarded by Fred Benenson of Free Culture @ NYU. It’s amazing news and a critical development for the online music space. You can get more information at the RARA site and I’ve duplicated their message in full below without commentary:

From: Press Contact <respectartistaudience@gmail.com>
Date: Mar 31, 2007 7:58 PM
Subject: MAJOR RECORD LABELS WITHDRAW FROM RIAA

MAJOR RECORD LABELS WITHDRAW FROM RIAA
Apple and Microsoft Help Launch RARA: Respect Artist, Respect Audience

April 1, 2007 (Hollywood, CA) – In a major break from the litigious and often alienating strategy pursued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against everyone from preteens to college students and grandmothers, the four major record labels have decided to drop all pending lawsuits and instead join with Apple and Microsoft to eliminate Digital Rights Management (DRM) from music sales. The companies are joining other personal electronics manufacturers and independent labels in a new organization, Respect the Artist, Respect the Audience (RARA).

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