Spotify now reports 15 million paid subscribers

Spotify 15 million premium users

Streaming music subscription service Spotify shared its latest user numbers today, announcing that it now has 15 million paid subscribers to its premium service and 60 million active users. Spotify’s paid user count of 15 million accounts is up from the 10 million paid subscribers it previously reported just over six months ago.

Since then, Apple has officially closed on its $3 billion deal to acquire Beats Electronics and Beats Music, which gave it access to its own on-demand music streaming subscription service. Before Apple’s Beats acquisition last year, the Spotify competitor was believed to have just over 110,000 paid subscribers of its own. Read more

Apple adds Games for Kids sub-section to App Store in ‘5 and under’, ‘6-8′ and ‘9-11′ groupings

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Following the dedicated Kids section added to the App Store back in 2013, Apple has now addedGames for Kids sub-section. Like its parent category, Apple has split it out into three different age ranges: 5 and under, 6-8 and 9-11.

Apple is also featuring the free book Family Time with Apps in the new section, created by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center to “help parents better understand the variety of ways that apps can support children’s healthy development and family learning, communication and connection” …  Read more

Higher European app store pricing takes effect in line with earlier email to developers

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Update: It appears subscriptions through iTunes (like magazines) that saw price increases have seen the auto-renew function disabled, a 9to5Mac reader reports, likely to avoid a higher subscription rate being charged, although users have not yet been notified of the change.

Apple has increased the prices of apps in all countries in the European Union in line with the email sent to developers a couple of days ago. Apple has made the move in response to shifts in currency exchange rates and varying tax rules.

Prices are also being increased in Norway and Russia, though Icelandic residents will see a price cut …  Read more

Disney CEO Bob Iger reflects on working with Steve Jobs: the ‘relationship that most shaped his thinking’

Disney CEO Bob Iger Steve Jobs

A Fortune interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger, featured on the magazine’s cover (seen below) today, makes much of the importance of Iger’s relationship with Steve Jobs.

Fortune’s Michal Lev-Ram writes: “If there is one particular relationship that has most shaped [Bob Iger’s] thinking, it’s the six-year friendship he had with another CEO: the late Steve Jobs […]

Ed Catumull, Disney’s animation president, says of the Iger/Jobs relationship: “Steve recognized that in Bob he actually had a partner. In the subsequent years they thought of each other as true partners. That’s what he wanted, and that’s not what he had previously.”

The mutual respect the pair felt for each other was reflected in the fact that Jobs, before his death, asked that Iger be invited to take his place on the Apple board …  Read more

Mac Starter Pack: unleash your iTunes gift card and upgrade your Mac with these great apps

App Starter Pack Mac 2014

Let’s assume you unwrapped a brand new Mac this year (awesome!) or scored a ton of iTunes/iBooks/App Store credit (still awesome!) and you need ideas for awesome apps to buy and check out for your new MacBook or iMac. Tons of new apps have launched on the Mac this year and even more have added new features and remain essential. Below are some of my favorite Mac apps that I’ve used needed from time to time or even use daily and should give you a solid place to start whether your a brand new Mac user or Mac veteran looking to do more with your machine. Read more

NYT: Apple declined offer from Sony Pictures to stream ‘The Interview’ on iTunes

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Update: Sony has now announced that “The Interview” will be available on YouTube, Google Play, and Xbox Video today, December 24th, at 1PM Eastern. The film will cost $14.99 to own or $5.99 to rent. Google Play Movies & TV is available for iOS on the App Store.

The New York Times reported earlier today that Sony Pictures had approached Apple about the possibility of streaming the upcoming film “The Interview,” which features actors James Franco and Seth Rogen (who will also appear in the upcoming Steve Jobs biopic) as a US talk show host and producer tasked by the CIA with assassinating North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un.

Earlier this month, hackers with ties to North Korea breached Sony’s system, stole terabytes of data, and threatened physical attacks against theaters that showed the movie. Most national theater chains backed out of the premiere and Sony decided to scrub the entire affair.

The studio immediately began searching for an on-demand service that would host the movie online, including iTunes. According to the Times:

Read more

Facebook Messenger and Heads Up take top slots in Apple’s most popular iOS app lists

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Apple has released the list of this year’s most popular iOS apps, with Facebook’s Messenger app and Warner Bros.’ Heads Up! game taking the top spots on the free and paid charts, respectively. The freemium Clash of Clans was the top grossing app of 2014.

Social networks claimed all of the top five free spots, with Snapchat, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram coming in behind Messenger. Between the main Facebook client, Messenger, and Instagram, the social networking company managed to capture the majority of the top five slots.

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Apple expands its social presence with new iTunes Tumblr blog

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In an interesting move, Apple has today launched a Tumblr blog for iTunes. The ‘blog’ runs a highly customized theme that more closely reflects Apple’s own website than a typical Tumblr page. The page features music, movies, TV and books content, with individual posts consisting of images, videos and animated GIFs of artists. Tumblr users can reblog these images on their own feeds, for social sharing. On a related note, iTunes also opened an official Instagram account earlier this month.

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Apple wins iPod & iTunes DRM antitrust case, jury decides

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Update — Apple’s statement via CNBC: “We thank the jury for their service and we applaud their verdict.”

A jury has decided that Apple is not guilty of violating antitrust laws in the decade-old lawsuit involving the iPod, iTunes Music Store, and digital rights management usage. The jury had to determine if the iTunes updates affecting customers’ iPods were “genuine product improvements” with Apple citing security concerns for implementing the usage of DRM. Read more