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Showing posts from January 29, 2013

Streaming Is The Future For Musicians, Maybe Not The Unpopular Ones Though

This NY Times has an article up today which suggests that music streaming services are going to drive musicians with small fanbases or niche styles out of the business because of the low rates that they pay.

Sorry, but the Times has that all wrong. Niche musicians are never going to be able to make a living based on music sales alone, doesn't matter where those sales are coming from, album sales, digital downloads or streaming services. Niche is niche because there isn't a huge audience. No audience = no sales, it really isn't rocket science.

The artist used to demonstrate the claim is an 'Avant Cellist' called Zoe Keating. Like me today is probably the first time you've heard the words avant and cellist used in the same sentence. Doesn't sound like a huge market does it? Zoe had 131,000 plays on Spotify this year - a reasonable number and if it translated into that many album purchases then the $0.5k she got paid by Spotify looks a little light. Thing is t…

WP Central: Eight Required Windows Phone Changes

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Here's a very good article on WP Central which points out some of the shortcomings in Windows Phone as they stand right now.

My biggest gripe right now remains the absence of too many vital applications, but I'd have to agree that Microsoft has to make most of these changes - hopefully in the update due to be announced at MWC. I'd also add one of my own - a system-wide toggle for screen rotation. Its an absolute necessity and doesn't seem to me to be an awfully difficult thing to add.

The arrival of a revamped Blackberry platform puts the pressure back onto Microsoft and it needs to make good on some of its key promises with the platform. Having Ben Rudolph and the Smoked by Windows Phone team travelling the continental US winning highly selective 'challenges' against other platforms isn't going to be enough now. Users who signed into their Lumias eighteen months ago have already seen the unpleasant side of being on Windows Phone, with Microsoft making the…

Unbelievable:Movie Mogul Claims Credit For Tolkein's Literary Popularity

In what looks like a particularly nasty land grab for merchandising rights, Saul Zaentz Company, the rights holders to the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit movies have claimed responsibility for the popularity of Tolkein's work!

Zaentz purchased the rights to the works in 1976 and for more than thirty years did nothing with them. Yet in a lawsuit filed by the company against the family of the author we find probably the most preposterous statement ever presented in a courtroom, to wit: the fame and good will of the Tolkein books is“largely the result of the dedicated efforts of Zaentz and its licensees (including Warner Bros.) over the past four decades.” That despite the books being lauded as some of the greatest pieces of fiction ever written for four decades before Zaentz got hold of the licence.

The case ranges over several claimed infringements of copyright by the movie producers New Line and Warner, and in  particular Zaentz. How the court will decide remains to be seen, however f…

PC and Tablet Sales Numbers Converging

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Microsoft's reasonably good financial figures announced this week have led some to question whether the PC market is dead after all. Well here's a little takeaway from IDC's number on tablet sales. As sales of PCs fall and those of tablets rise we're rapidly approaching crossover point. Today one tablet is sold for every two PCs. I suspect by the time that those numbers are published in a couple of quarters time we'll be at parity and by next holiday sales season the reverse will be completed.

Why do I believe this is the case? Consumers have realised that they don't really need a home PC, an iPad or Galaxy Tab will do all that they need it to do. Rather than replacing an aging PC with a new one it makes much more sense to buy a tablet and allow the old PC to soldier on a bit longer, given that its going to be seeing less and less use. Enterprise IT departments are having their budgets squeezed, one way of getting better return on their investment in a PC is t…

iPad Market Share Dropping, Sales Rising

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Looks like the introduction of the iPad Mini failed to stop the decline in Apple's share of the tablet market - although the iPad remains dominant in the sector for the first time its also looking like the competition has eroded customer's iPad-only mindset and as a result Android tablets have outsold Apple's.

The report from IDC puts Samsung in second place in the market, shipping a healthy 7.9 million tablets, compared to Apple's 22.9 - a similar ratio to the smartphone market around two years ago and we all know what happened there.

In terms of market share IDC rates Apple at 43.6% - the only question now is how much did constrained supply affect Apple's sales last quarter. And of those customers who couldn't get iPads how many bought something else rather than waiting?

Blackberry 10 Launched, But Will It Survive?

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After what seems like an interminable delay Blackberry 10 arrived yesterday, along with new handsets and a ditching of the RIM name. General  perception from those who've had hands on time is that the OS catches up to where iOS and Android were six months ago and doesn't add anything new to the mix. That may be enough to keep current Blackberry users in the fold, but will it attract users from their iPhones and Galaxies? I suspect not.

This means real trouble for Blackberry. As the market grows its market share will shrink if it can't bring new users into the platform, if its market share shrinks then developers will be unlikely to target the platform for those big name or high demand apps that users actually want.

The same problem current affects Windows Phone, however both Microsoft and Nokia are plunging huge resources into assisting developers get new apps out. Against this the $10m that Blackberry has set aside to support developers looks very light.

With iOS and And…

FCC Outs New Apple TV

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Apple's next gen Apple TV doesn't look like its far from an official announcement after it was outed by the FCC. Specs point to a slightly smaller unit with a new processor and wireless antenna.

Interestingly, as part of yesterday's iOS 6.1 update the Apple TV gained support for Bluetooth keyboards. Useful for typing searches into the media control front end, but surely overkill for just that purpose?

Putting two and two together (and possibility reaching eight!) my feeling is that the Apple TV is about to get a but of a capability boost in its next iteration. Which is a good thing. For what is a pretty good product with huge amounts of potential to disrupt the established tech in the living room market, Apple hasn't really pushed forward with the TV. In that time Microsoft have made the Xbox a better product for things other than games and Google has launched a competitive product too. Even Sony seems to have been working on the PS3 to boost its home entertainment cr…

Amazon's Financials Compared to Apple

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Here's an interesting contrast in how the stock market views company performance. Amazon's financial results for the last quarter were big on revenue - more than $21bn, up 22%, - but poor on profits, a comparitively measly $97m. The company also suggested that next quarter would probably be tighter, even warning of a potential loss for the period. Whilst sales are growing and the company is positioning it self well for the future, its not the sort of thing that would make you go gangbusters for Amazon stock. In overnight trading after the announcement Amazon jumped 11% as a result of this earnings call.
Apple's numbers were nothing short of amazing in comparison, $54bn in revenue and $13bn in profit, both record performance for the company. Apple also suggested that if it had been able to ship more kit sales could have measurably higher. Currently Apple's stock is down fropm $700 to around $450 - with some suggesting $325 as a likely resting place for the share price.

Ars Technica: How Newegg Crushed the "Shopping Cart" Patent and Saved Online Retail

Good story on how Newegg stood up for its principles, downed a patent troll that has been raking in tens of millions of dollars using invalid patents and the US's terrible handling of patent law. The result means the end for the troll, although whether companies that were stung prior to this invalidation will be able to reclaim their money remains to be seen. Amazon is out by upwards of $40m...How Newegg crushed the “shopping cart” patent and saved online retail | ArsTechnica

F1: Pay Drivers Back With A Bang

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F1 has always had its share of pay drivers - those who get a seat purely because of the money they bring to a team in sponsorship. Sometimes those drivers pull off a surprise when they turn out to have some skills to back the money up - Sergio Perez and Pastor Maldonado are two recent examples.

However with the world in financial meltdown we have reached a point when an already small grid is so littered with drivers bringing a budget that we are losing talented drivers at a faster rate than at any time in history. In the last few weeks we've lost Timo Glock and Heikki Kovalainen to make room for pay drivers, whilst popular Japanese racer Kamui Kobayashi was unable to find a seat despite raising around $1m from fan donations after losing his drive at Sauber. HRT's failure further reduced the number of seats available, although the teams failure to perform probably restricted them to pay drivers only anyway.
F1 can't claim to be the pinnacle of motorsport when some of the w…

Chromebook Sales Growing, But Google Could Push It Into The Mainstream

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Acer has just announced a huge jump in sales of its Google Chromebooks, accounting for at least 5% of the company US laptop sales. It's a surprise, but a pleasant one for Google. With both Lenovo and HP announcing that they will be selling Chromebooks its looking very much like the cloud OS has arrived, albeit in a small way.

However Google has really got an opportunity to hurt Microsoft's Windows 8 sales and probably put a dent into MacBook sales too. The launch of a Nexus Chromebook could have the same effect on sales as the launch of the Nexus 7, which sent Android tablet sales rocketing, even if it was a response to the Kindle Fire's success.

My vision for the Chromebook Nexus would be a hybrid device, running both Android and ChromeOS, merging the best options for online and offline operation into one device. If it were to come together in a Transformer-style device allowing laptop to tablet conversion we'd be talking about the genesis of a new model for portable …