Category: iTunes Store

iTunes and iPods Get Revamp

iPod touch (6th gen) Front View

iPod touch (6th gen) | Image courtesy of Apple

Sharing the stage with the iPhone 5 Apple’s iPods and iTunes were updated in front of the world’s media today. Starting with iTunes Apple’s Eddy Cue announced a whole new version of iTunes on the desktop, version 11, with a major redesign (see it up close). Joswiak also explained how over 60% of music bought off the iTunes store is done through iOS devices so kicked off his section of today’s keynote by announcing a redesign of the iTunes store on iOS.

The changes to the desktop iTunes app are deeper than just the iTunes store which has also had a redesign. iTunes 11, set to land in late-October is much simpler to use and includes iCloud integration for seamless syncing of content between all devices, iCloud also remembers where you are in your favourite movies or TV shows no matter which device you’re viewing on. The new library view makes it easier to view your music, TV shows and movies, allowing you to click on the category of content you want to browse and that’s all you will see. The expandable album view allows you to see track listings for an individual album, while letting you continue to browse your music library. The new search feature searches across your entire iTunes library, including music, movies and TV shows.

iTunes Store on MacBook Pro (with Retina display), iPad and iPhone 5

Revamped iTunes Store on MacBook Pro (with Retina display), iPad and iPhone 5 | Image courtesy of Apple

One feature I’m personally keen on is called Up Next and is a new way to see what songs are coming up and queue songs or albums you want to hear next.

Apple also took the opportunity to show off the impressive statistics attached to the almost decade old iTunes store. The iTunes store includes 26 million songs, over 700,000 apps, over 190,000 TV episodes and over 45,000 films and is available in 63 countries around the world.

Apple also refreshed some of its iPod lineup in preparation for the upcoming Christmas shopping season. Both the iPod nano and iPod touch got major updates whilst the iPod shuffle got minor colour changes and the iPod classic remained untouched as with previous years.

The new iPod nano features a 2.5-inch multi-touch display, a small home button, navigation buttons on the side for quick track changing and Bluetooth for wireless transmission of music. The iPod nano is now just 5mm thin and available only in 16GB size in six different colours.

iPod nano is available in October for $149.

iPod nano (7th gen)

iPod nano (7th gen) | Image courtesy of Apple

The iPod touch also got a major revamp. Following in the steps of the iPhone 5 the new touch has a 4-inch retina display and a a 5MP camera with autofocus, support for 1080p video recording with video image stabilisation, face detection and an LED flash, and the new panorama mode. Every new iPod touch comes with a colour-matched iPod touch loop, a clever and convenient wrist strap a perfect accessory for kids.

The new iPod touch is just 6mm thin and weighs 88 grams. Inside Apple has managed to pack in last years A5 SoC but the graphics capabilities of this chip were enough for Apple to spend a considerable portion of the keynote showing off how good a gaming device the iPod touch is.

iPod touch is available in October in five colours in 32GB and 64GB capacities for $299 (£249) and $399 (£329) respectively.

Apple’s Social Offerings Remain Lacklustre

Gorillaz Perform at Glastonbury Festival in 2010

Gorillaz Perform at Glastonbury Festival in 2010 | Photo by Bethan Phillips

Music has for centuries been enjoyed by groups of people. Music is by definition an art and art is intended to be enjoyed and shared. To this day millions of people attend live concerts, music festivals and musical shows—all to share the experience of music. But music is often listened to and enjoyed on an individual basis these days and whilst we’re all very sociable, maybe more so than ever, music is all too often enjoyed by a single pair of ears.

This trend towards unsociable music isn’t new, the advent of personal music players in the 1980s made it a norm to have music directly injected into our heads without anyone around us being any the wiser. Thankfully the trend is reversing, but Apple seems to have not been invited to the party.

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Why Sync?

iCloud music on iPhone, iPad and Mac

iCloud music on iPhone, iPad and Mac

This week the subject of Apple’s cluttered and bloated iTunes app has been on the agenda. Jason Snell over at Macworld originally argued that if Apple is going to embrace the cloud, like it appears to be doing, then iTunes should be simpler. Snell suggests breaking iTunes down into separate apps, “one devoted to device syncing, one devoted to media playback. (And perhaps the iTunes Store could be broken out separately too?)”

Then Federico Viticci at MacStories chimed in with a slightly different take but along the same lines. Viticci’s take moves along a different tangent and one that has been playing on my mind for a few weeks now. The basic premise of Viticci’s argument is why does iTunes need to the hub of all our media and device syncing? Put simpler, why are we still using iTunes?

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Apple’s Latest iPad Sales Tactic

Apple's Education-based Special Event

Apple's Education-based Special Event Invite

On Thursday Apple will hold its first event of 2012. The event which will be held in New York City early on Thursday morning is guaranteed to be focused solely on the education market. Thankfully Apple clarified this intention with the actual event invite itself leaving no room for speculation on 50-inch Apple branded television sets or Apple TV boxes that can have Siri-type commands shouted at them.

Instead the little speculation that has led us up to this week has focused on the iPad and textbooks. When I say the iPad I don’t mean a refresh of the iPad hardware, that’s not likely to happen until April, I’m talking about how Apple will use the iPad to dominate the education market.

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Apple Cloud-Based Music Locker Ready “Pretty Soon”

A pair of reports today put the spotlight on Apple’s plans to unveil a cloud-based music locker. Reuters initially reported that Apple had “completed work” on the long-rumoured cloud-based music service and is said to beating Google to the punch.

Apple Inc has completed work on an online music storage service and is set to launch it ahead of Google Inc, whose own music efforts have stalled, according to several people familiar with both companies’ plans.

Apple’s plans will allow iTunes customers to store their songs on a remote server, and then access them from wherever they have an Internet connection, said two of these people who asked not to be named as the talks are still confidential.

Reuter’s report does mention that Apple is yet to sign any new licenses for the service and major labels are looking to have these signed before the service launches. According to the three sources Apple has not informed music labels when it intends to launch the new service.

In separate report from All Things D the sources contradict those from Reuters saying that Apple has come to terms with two of the four major music labels and that Eddy Cue, Apple vice president of iTunes is meeting labels to try and finalise deals this week.

The report from All Things D also briefly noted how the service will work:

The idea is that Apple will let users store songs they’ve purchased from its iTunes store, as well as others songs stored on their hard drives, and listen to them on multiple devices.

Apple Shifts 5 Million Beatles Tracks on iTunes

The Beatles album 'Help!' on iTunes Store

The Beatles album 'Help!' on iTunes Store

Apple has informed The Loop that it has sold over 5 million Beatles tracks worldwide and 1 million albums. “Abbey Road” is the best selling album in the U.S. according to Apple and “Here Comes the Sun” is the best-selling song.

The Beatles went on sale on the iTunes Store on November 16 last year, Apple made available all 13 studio albums along with iTunes LPs. Also available was the “Past Masters” and the “Red” and “Blue” collections, Apple also released the digital “Beatles Box Set” that included the “Live at the Washington Coliseum, 1964″ concert recording.

It would appear that the pace of sales has slowed, a week after the Beatles went on sale on iTunes EMI announced that 2 million songs and 450,000 albums had been sold.

The Beatles Arrive on iTunes Store

The Beatles album 'Help!' on iTunes Store

The Beatles album 'Help!' on iTunes Store

Ahead of Apple’s announcement the entire Beatles catalog has appeared on the iTunes Store. Alongside 13 remastered Beatles studio albums Apple has also uploaded numerous concert and music videos.

The Beatles boxset featuring 256 songs and an iTunes LP mini-documentary and a video of the bands first U.S. concert is available for $149 (£125).

“We’re really excited to bring the Beatles’ music to iTunes,” said Sir Paul McCartney. “It’s fantastic to see the songs we originally released on vinyl receive as much love in the digital world as they did the first time around.”

“I am particularly glad to no longer be asked when the Beatles are coming to iTunes,” said Ringo Starr. “At last, if you want it—you can get it now—The Beatles from Liverpool to now! Peace and Love, Ringo.”

“We love the Beatles and are honored and thrilled to welcome them to iTunes,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “It has been a long and winding road to get here. Thanks to the Beatles and EMI, we are now realizing a dream we’ve had since we launched iTunes ten years ago.”

“In the joyful spirit of Give Peace A Chance, I think it is so appropriate that we are doing this on John’s 70th birthday year,” said Yoko Ono Lennon.

“The Beatles on iTunes—Bravo!” said Olivia Harrison.

“The Beatles and iTunes have both been true innovators in their fields,” said EMI Group CEO Roger Faxon. “It’s a privilege for everybody at EMI to work with Steve Jobs and with Apple Corps’ Jeff Jones and their teams in marking a great milestone in the development of digital music.”

Apple has also posted several ads that it looks likely that Apple will run on TV stating: “The band that changed everything. Now on iTunes.”

Rumours Mount Ahead of ‘Exciting’ iTunes Announcement

Today Apple will announce “exciting” news about iTunes and proposes that today will be a day “you’ll never forget”. Since yesterdays quiet unveiling of Apple’s homepage many news outlets have been scrambling to find out ahead of time what Apple could be announcing.

Here’s what we’ve got:

  • Many sources initially jumped to conclude that the event will be all about an iTunes streaming service, offering either your own music library streaming to any device or a monthly subscription would give you access to unlimited streaming music. Whilst such a service has been long rumoured All ThingsD reckons that it’s not primetime for the service.
  • Evidence found in iTunes 10.1 by The Apple Lounge refers to an “iTunes Live Stream”. Whilst not very descriptive it could indicate that Apple is going to introduce TV and movie streaming on the Mac like it offers on the Apple TV.
  • The Beatles catalog is coming to iTunes. This looks like where the money rests; late yesterday The Wall Street Journal reported that Apple had finally closed the deal with Apple Corps to begin carrying the entire Beatles catalog “soon”. WSJ had no details of the deal to hand was “unclear whether other online music services would gain access to the catalog too.”

To see what Apple does unveil visit Apple’s homepage at 7am pacific, 10am eastern, 3pm London and midnight Tokyo time to see what iTunes has to announce.

Apple Set to Increase iTunes Previews to 90 Seconds

Apple looks set to increase the preview time of songs on the U.S. iTunes store to 90 seconds. The change was detailed to music label representatives on Tuesday via email.

The change of song preview from 30 seconds to 90 seconds will only affect songs longer than 2 minutes 30 seconds, anything shorter will keep a preview of 30 seconds. It is unknown when the change will take effect or whether it will only apply to the U.S. iTunes store.

The email obtained by AppleInsider is detailed below:

Dear Label Representative:

We are pleased to let you know that we are preparing to increase the length of music previews from 30 seconds to 90 seconds on the iTunes Store in the United States. We believe that giving potential customers more time to listen to your music will lead to more purchases.

All you have to do is continue making your content available on the iTunes Store, which will confirm your acceptance to the following terms.

You agree that this letter modifies our U.S. Digital Music Download Sales Agreement so that “Clips” for songs longer than 2 minutes and 30 seconds may be up to 90 seconds long (“Clips” for shorter songs will stay at 30 seconds); and you agree to license, or pass through to Apple, gratis mechanical rights for 90-second “Clips” embodying the entirety of compositions owned or controlled, in whole or in part, by you or your affiliates. Further, you represent that you have the authority to enter into this letter agreement for 90-second “Clips”.

Thank you,
The iTunes Store Team

iTunes Continues to Dominate Music Industry

Data released today from the NPD group reveals that iTunes continue to dominate music retailers with a share of 28% of all music (digital and physical tracks and albums) purchased by U.S. consumers during Q1 2010. The data also shows that iTunes holds a 70% share of digital music purchases during the same period, marking a one percent growth since Q1 2009.

Amazon who is in second place behind Apple’s iTunes gained three percentage points to tie with Walmart also in second place at 12 percent of music purchases. NPD’s data showed that digital tracks and albums accounted for 40 percent of all music purchases in Q1 2010, a five percent gain from Q1 2009.

“Amazon’s growth reflects a stronger position in both the CD and digital formats,” said Russ Crupnick, vice president of industry analysis for the NPD group. “This dual-pronged approach of selling both digital music and CDs helps attract the most valuable and committed music buyer who prefers access to both formats.”