Opinion: Five years from now, will we have given up all control of our technology?

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I know, it seems an odd question. But a few different things over the last couple of days got me thinking …

Years ago, before either Google or Apple ecosystems were really deserving of the term, I managed all my device synchronisation manually: I decided what content got synced on what devices. My music too: iTunes was allowed to play it, but not to manage it – I took care of the folder structures and meta-data myself. And the miscellaneous notes I kept were in a folder full of text files, the format deliberately chosen to be compatible with anything, not sitting inside Apple’s Notes app.

My view was that it should be me, not some piece of software or online service, that made the decisions about how things got done. Fast-forward to today, however, and things are quite different around here …  Read more

Apps, rather than streaming music, may be responsible for ‘peak iTunes’ – analyst

We noted at the end of last year that iTunes music downloads appeared to be on the decline for the first time, a shift that was confirmed this month. The operating assumption has so far been that music streaming services are taking over, and that a growing number of consumers are now content to simply have on-demand access to music, rather than to own it.

Asymco’s Horace Dediu, an analyst who often has interesting things to say, has suggested an alternative explanation: that we’re actually listening to less music …  Read more

Have music downloads hit their peak, with streaming taking over?

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What do 1980, 1989 and 2003 have in common? They were the peak sales years for LPs, cassettes and CDs respectively. After that, a very slight resurgence in vinyl aside, it was all downhill.

Billboard magazine has an interesting piece in which they suggest that perhaps 2012 might join that list – as the year that saw peak sales for music downloads, with streaming services like Spotify, Rdio and now, of course, iTunes Radio the heir apparent …

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Spotify goes free with new streaming tier on tablets, smartphones…with a caveat

From 9to5Google:

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Spotify fans the world over take note, the company is moving into the ad-supported model with a new app for both iOS, Android tablets and smartphones. The company is introducing a whole new tier of service on mobile, providing users an opportunity to listen and search for songs on the go for free with a small catch.

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Google Play Music finally hits iOS with a free month of All Access and programmable radio in 21 countries

After much anticipation, Google finally released its native Google Play Music app for iOS today. The All Access and Radio service was originally announced at Google IO in May with the promise that it would be ported to iOS devices a few weeks later. Then it was rumored last month. Well, today it is really here and Google was nice enough to give us a great look at the service yesterday (video above).

Google’s music ecosystem differs greatly from Apple’s and more closely resembles Spotify or Amazon with a focus on the Cloud. On Macs and PCs you can use it through a browser with an interface that is remarkably robust for a webpage, but obviously not quite as responsive as iTunes, especially with local music.

Play millions of songs, instantly, on any device, including all the music you’ve ever bought…from anywhere.

Google’s Music is in the Cloud (mostly) so you can seamlessly move from device to device, though there is a 5 app limit (but no limit on devices with web browser access). You can upload 20,000 songs for free, create playlists and share with friends, listen to your music anywhere there is a web browser or iOS/Android device. Kind of a no-brainer… Read more

Apple said to be closing music deals in order to launch ‘iRadio’ at upcoming WWDC

Update: Bloomberg adds more to WSJ’s report from earlier claiming that Apple’s new radio service will be tightly integrated with its iAd business. The report says Eddy Cue is currently making changes to the iAd business to support the new radio service scheduled to launch later this year alongside iOS 7:

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has been negotiating with advertising companies including Omnicom Group Inc (OMC).’s OMD to secure brands that will run campaigns on the radio service, one person said..The company has taken steps to be more flexible with advertisers to get more business. Apple has required marketers to pay a fee for each 1,000 times an advertisement is placed in an app, plus an additional $2 for every time a customer clicks that ad. In some cases, Apple has eliminated one of those charges, one person familiar with the company said.

Apple also has cut prices so that media agencies can spend $1 million and use the purchased space for different advertising clients. And Apple started taking ad business from companies that sell alcohol, something Jobs resisted after creating iAd, said one person.

We’ve heard no shortage of rumors on the rumored iRadio streaming service from Apple that has taken on some new urgency after Google released a similar service at Google I/O last month (and plans to launch it on iOS soon). The latest comes from the NYTimes, which says Apple is rushing to close deals as days wind down to WWDC’s kickoff on June 10th.

After months of stalled negotiations over its planned Internet radio service, Apple is pushing to complete licensing deals with music companies so it can reveal the service as early as next week, according to people briefed on the talks.

It would appear that Apple wants to announce the service at WWDC, but the company needs to overcome issues with closing some of the deals. CNET reported earlier today that Apple had closed the deal with Warner, one of the bigger labels.

Apple has signed a deal with the Universal Music Group for its recorded music rights, but not for music publishing — the part of the business that deals with songwriting. Over the weekend, Apple also signed a deal with the Warner Music Group for both rights. It is still in talks with Sony Music Entertainment and Sony’s separate publishing arm, Sony/ATV, whose songwriters include Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga.

In a strange irony, the music service Apple offers is, again, said to be free and supported by ads (like Pandora/Spotify/Slacker/etc). This is in contrast to Google’s service, which is sold via a paid subscription.

I would have guessed the opposite, but this may be why Google was able to close the deals with the labels and Apple is still at the table.

WSJ adds that Apple will pay Warner 10% of ad revenue, about twice as much as Pandora, and that the service will be integrated with iAd.

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