Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

The Justice Department is scrutinizing Apple’s App Store rules, specifically the requirement that app developers use Apple Pay, which takes up to a 30 percent cut. Since mid-2019, lawyers have been interviewing app developers about their experiences with Apple. Developers have pushed back by blocking subscriptions and payments on their apps or charging higher rates on iPhone apps. The DOJ’s antitrust resources are focused on Google’s dominance in digital advertising, which may result in a case as early as this summer. Continue reading Justice Department Probes Requirements of Apple App Store

Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Technology has just unveiled an app specifically designed for children between the ages of 3 and 12. Spotify Kids, which is available for free to Spotify Premium Family members, is being tested in the U.K., Sweden, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand. The most notable change is visual: Spotify Kids offers kids the animated creature of their choice to act as an avatar in an environment full of colors and doodles. There are two Spotify Kids versions, one for younger children and another for older ones. Continue reading Spotify Tests a Beta Version of Music App Aimed at Children

Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Spotify, reporting its Q4 results, revealed that it now has 271 million subscribers, up 31 percent from a year ago, with paying subscribers up 29 percent to 125 million. The company’s overall revenue reached $2 billion, up 24 percent from the previous year, with a gross margin of 25.6 percent. Spotify is still posting operating losses, with Q4’s pegged at $85 million, with its loss per share now at $1.26. Spotify also acquired Bill Simmons’ sports and pop culture website and podcasting network The Ringer. Continue reading Spotify Still Dominates Podcast Space, Acquires The Ringer

Indian Music Streamer Reaches 152 Million Monthly Users

Gaana is a growing streaming music service based in Noida, India that offers 45 million songs in 20 regional languages to its 152 million monthly users. Backed by India’s Bennett Coleman & Co. and China’s Tencent Holdings, Gaana offers hyperlocal content and voice-based search, ideal for those with limited literacy skills. Only about half of India’s 1.3 billion people are online, giving Gaana plenty of room to grow. Even so, numerous music streamers from outside India — including Spotify, YouTube Music and ByteDance’s Resso — are pursuing music market share there. Continue reading Indian Music Streamer Reaches 152 Million Monthly Users

Apple to Bundle News+, TV+, Music as Early as Next Year

According to sources, Apple, in a bid to gain more subscribers, plans to bundle its paid Internet services, including Apple News+, Apple TV+ and Apple Music, as early as 2020. Apple included a proviso in its recently inked media deals that allows it to bundle the News+ service with other paid digital content. Debuted in March, Apple News+ is a $10 per month subscription service that provides access to many publications, splitting the revenue in half with the newspaper and magazine publishers. The Apple TV+ streaming video service launched earlier this month. Continue reading Apple to Bundle News+, TV+, Music as Early as Next Year

Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Apple’s debut of its streaming service, Apple TV+, has garnered outsized attention. But an examination of Apple’s spending on marketing indicates the Silicon Valley company’s main priority is its new iPhone. In September and October this year, Apple spent a total of $71.9 million on iPhone ads and $40.3 million on Apple TV+ ads. In October, for example, Apple spent $19.9 million on television commercials for Apple TV+, but, according to measurement company iSpot.tv, only $38.6 million on the new iPhone. Continue reading Apple Drops More on Ads for iPhone Than Its OTT Platform

Verizon Offers Free Disney+ for Unlimited Data Customers

Verizon Communications, the largest U.S. wireless provider, will provide a year of free access to Disney+ for its customers who have unlimited data plans. About half of Verizon’s 100+ million customers currently pay for an unlimited data plan. Disney’s new film and television streaming service will debut November 12 and cost $6.99 per month. Verizon will also offer a year of free Disney+ to its FiOS Internet and 5G home broadband subscribers. Disney+ is one of several new streaming services targeting Netflix’s dominance. Continue reading Verizon Offers Free Disney+ for Unlimited Data Customers

Apple in Talks With Record Labels on Bundling Music, Video

Apple reportedly wants to bundle Apple Music and Apple TV+ for one flat fee, and is in early discussions with record labels to do so. Some labels are “open to the idea,” but others are leery it will lead to loss of revenue. According to sources, Apple hasn’t yet worked out a price formula. Currently, Apple Music costs $9.99 per month for those in the U.S., with a $4.99 level for students. Apple TV+ will cost $4.99 per month, and is free for a year to anyone who buys an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac. Continue reading Apple in Talks With Record Labels on Bundling Music, Video

Amazon Music to Introduce HD Service for CD-Quality Sound

Amazon is debuting an HD version of its music service, which means its digital sound quality will henceforth be on a par with that found on CDs. Music executives, some who have pushed for different tiers of subscription beyond Apple Music and Spotify’s typical $9.99-per-month, said Amazon’s move is “a sign of the music-streaming market’s maturation.” Although Tidal offers an HD sound service, Amazon Music, at the No. 3 spot by subscription numbers, will be the first major service to offer comparable quality audio. Continue reading Amazon Music to Introduce HD Service for CD-Quality Sound

Apple Readies Release of Apple TV+ and Arcade Services

Apple will launch its Apple TV Plus movie and TV subscription service by November, said sources, introducing a small number of shows and then increasing the catalog over time. Although not announced, sources said a free trial is likely to kick off the new service and build an audience while the company fills out its library. Apple TV Plus is part of the company’s goal to reach $50 billion in service sales by 2020. In doing so, it enters a highly competitive, crowded field. Meanwhile, more details have been released on the Apple Arcade gaming service. Continue reading Apple Readies Release of Apple TV+ and Arcade Services

Cable Provider Altice Plans Fall Launch For Smart Speaker

New York-based cable provider Altice USA, parent company to Optimum and Suddenlink, plans to launch a high-fidelity smart speaker this fall that features audio tech from French company Devialet. The $400 Altice Amplify will come with Alexa built-in for hands-free control of TV functions. The speaker, to be available through Altice’s cable stores and Amazon.com, will feature access to streaming apps on the Altice One cable system such as Netflix, Pandora and YouTube. Altice Amplify will work with additional TV systems and streaming devices and support apps including Amazon Music, Apple Music, Audible, iHeartRadio, Spotify, Tidal and TuneIn. Continue reading Cable Provider Altice Plans Fall Launch For Smart Speaker

Spotify Reaches 108M Subs, But Revenue Per User Drops

Top streaming music service Spotify announced that it added 8 million subscribers during the most recent quarter ending in June, bringing its total to 108 million paying subscribers and 232 million monthly active users (paying and non-paying). The subscriber tally includes those who signed up for Spotify’s 30-day free trial. The company also recently launched its biannual campaign that offers the premium service for only $1. As a result, its average revenue per user dropped to $5.42, which is a 1 percent reduction compared to the previous quarter. Continue reading Spotify Reaches 108M Subs, But Revenue Per User Drops

Apple Takes On Original Podcasting to Compete with Rivals

To compete with Spotify and Stitcher, Apple plans to roll out exclusive original podcasts and is already in conversation with media companies to do so, said sources. The company has not yet described its strategy, but did say it will make unprecedented deals to build up its podcast collection. Industry experts reported that, currently, 50 to 70 percent of all podcast listening already takes place from the Apple Podcasts app. Since debuting Apple Podcasts in 2005, however, Apple has made few changes. Continue reading Apple Takes On Original Podcasting to Compete with Rivals

CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

The Consumer Technology Association forecast that U.S. consumer technology sales will grow 2.2 percent to $401 billion in 2019, due to AI-enabled devices, streaming services, and in-vehicle and other technologies. CTA chief executive Gary Shapiro noted that 5G will provide the faster connectivity that will help boost sales of new technologies, but warned, however, that “unnecessary tariffs — taxes paid by American consumers and businesses — threaten to slow down our nation’s economic momentum.” Continue reading CTA: Tech Sales to Reach New High of $401 Billion in 2019

Live-Streamed Music Events Prove Effective For Marketing

Apple Music, Spotify and Amazon Music are among the music streaming services using live events and concerts to stand out from the crowd. For its Prime Day promotion, for example, Amazon live-streamed a Taylor Swift concert in New York City. Musicians also find these live streaming events as a way for their songs to rise above the millions available on the services. Streaming services are experimenting with different kinds of concerts, including album-listening parties and those based on popular playlists. Continue reading Live-Streamed Music Events Prove Effective For Marketing

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