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The Daily and iTunes Subscriptions Coming In December?

news-corp-logo_0We brought it to you yesterday about something being in the air as far as a potential collaboration between News Corp and Apple in regard to an iPad news app.  This seems to be gaining some traction as a new report has the app set to be revealed on December 9.

According to John Gruber, both Rupert Murdoch and Steve Jobs would be in attendance at the possible event.  “This is not going to be a quiet launch,” Gruber notes, saying that it would be iPad-only at first.

Apple has oft been talked about to be developing an actual dedicated newsstand app for the iPad, but the Daily would still start off as your traditional third-party app.  Where does Apple play in this?  Their contribution would revolve around a billing change to be able to allow subscriptions in iTunes.  The structure of it isn’t known just yet, but it would be built into iOS, not just the accounting system.

As Electronista points out, how this would work without an update to iOS isn’t known just yet either, but perhaps Apple would allow News Corp some early access to APIs or even a temporary free publication until the plan would go into effect.  As mentioned yesterday, the possible pricing plan is said to be 99 cents per week.

Most know that publishers have been knocking on Cupertino’s door asking for them to adapt its business model for magazines, newspapers as well as other periodicals because they believe the current pricing structure just isn’t cutting it. 

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter

(Image courtesy of topnews.us)

 

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iTunes 10.1 Now Available for Download

Fire up that Software Update app, because iTunes is ready for a tune up. iTunes 10.1 has just been released and it includes the following:

– ability to use AirPlay to wirelessly stream videos from iTunes to the new Apple TV
– installation of iOS 4.2 on your iPhone, iPad and/or iPod touch
– a number of important stability and performance issues

For more information, head over to the support site at the the official Apple site.

iTunes URLs Could Soon be Shortened with iTun.es

With the announcement of Ping integration with Twitter, Apple seems to be stepping more and more into the web arena with their products. So, it’s no wonder that they would purchase the iTun.es domain name. But, what could it be used for? We hope an iTunes URL shortening service.

If you have used the Ping-Twitter integration, you probably know about the horribly-long URLs that can get tweeted. After doing some digging around in the WHOIS database, MacRumors found that the iTun.es domain is, in fact, owned by Apple (if the redirect to Apple.com doesn’t solidify it enough).

The domain name was purchased by Apple in December of 2006, but Apple has yet to utilize it. Perhaps the new Twitter integration will finally give them a chance to use the domain to shorten iTunes URLs.

Why Facebook Didn't Take the iTunes Ping Deal

Yesterday, we reported that Apple and Twitter had entered into a partnership whereby Ping users could have their likes, updates, and purchases tweeted using their Twitter account, and users on the social micro-blogging service would be able to listen to song previews right from the Twitter web interface. But, why did Apple not choose Facebook over Twitter? After all, there are many more Facebook users than Twitter.

Apple had been eying Facebook since the beginning, but perhaps due to terms in the agreement between the two companies, that deal didn’t last.

Today, however, Fast Company is giving us some insight into why the Twitter-Ping deal worked and why Facebook may have been hesitant to accept Apple’s offers.

According to the blog, Facebook may have been hesitant to give Apple access to it’s over half-billion users. Even though iTunes users trust Apple enough to give them credit card information — something, the blog notes, no social network has been able to achieve up to this point.

Fast Company also notes that Twitter and Ping may have been the best fit for both companies, because of minimalist design of Twitter, and the fact that Twitter has yet found a good way to make money on the social networking service. With this partnership, you may soon be able to purchase songs right from your browser in Twitter, which may in turn give Twitter a cut of the iTunes purchases.

You can read more information about Fast Company’s take on the Ping deal on their website.

Godzilla is Coming! Japan Gets Apple TV and iTunes Movies

Apple’s introduction of the Apple TV and iTunes movie rentals continues its global invasion, this time landing in the Land of the Rising Sun. The only question now is, will it be big in Japan?

MacRumors is reporting that the Apple TV and iTunes movie rentals (and sales) have invaded Japan at last, according to an announcement on Wednesday by Apple. The iTunes Store features more than 1,000 movies at launch, both from American studios as well as “top Japanese studios.”

“Apple today announced that movies are now available on the iTunes Store in Japan giving customers an incredible way to enjoy movies on their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC, or with the new Apple TV on their HD TV,” Cupertino’s press release stated. “Starting today, there are over 1,000 movies to rent or buy in high definition and standard definition from major international film studios including 20th Century Fox, Paramount Pictures, The Walt Disney Studios, Warner Bros. Pictures, Universal Pictures and top Japanese studios including Asmik Ace Entertainment Inc., Fuji TV, Kadakowa Pictures, Nikkatsu, Shochiku Company Limited and Toei Company Limited.”

As usual, iTunes Store renters have 30 days to start watching their content, and once it’s started, they’ll have 48 hours to complete it before Apple makes it go bye-bye like those cardboard cities in the old Godzilla movies.

Of course, with movie rentals and purchases in Japan comes the second-generation Apple TV, which also began shipping in the country this week. Japanese Apple fans will finally have a way to get that iTunes content onto their big screens — sans Netflix, since the streaming service is sadly not available anywhere but the U.S. and Canada for now.

iTunes Connect Taking Extended Holiday from December 23-28

iTunes Connect closed for the holidays
(Image courtesy of 9to5Mac)

If you’re an iOS developer or just a user who’s hopelessly addicted to app updates, you might want to find something else to do come late December — Apple’s iTunes Connect is closing its doors for nearly a week over Christmas.

9to5Mac is reporting that Apple has notified iOS developers that iTunes Connect will be closed for the holidays from December 23 through 28, with App Store management service getting back to normal on Wednesday, December 29 in time to close out 2010 and usher in the New Year.

iTunes Connect is how iOS developers interact with Apple and make their apps and subsequent updates available to the end users. Having the service go dark for nearly a week doesn’t affect users — you’ll still be able to make purchases during the outage — but there will be no one manning the cubicles at Apple HQ to tackle new app submissions or approve updates to existing apps during that time.

“iTunes Connect will be temporarily unavailable from Thursday, December 23 through Tuesday, December 28 for the winter holidays,” the developer site reads. “iTunes Connect access will be back online for use on December 29. If you choose to set an available date for your app to go live during the scheduled holiday shutdown, your app will not go live on the App Store until iTunes Connect resumes for business on December 29. Please plan your releases accordingly.”

If you’re one of those users who compulsively look for fresh updates to your apps every day — you know who you are! — we’d recommend taking a vacation from December 23-28, because you’re likely to be wearing the sad face otherwise. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

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Apple Settles Patent Dispute Over iTunes Music Sales

Sharing Sound, LLC recently brought a lawsuit on a few different companies offering online music sales. The lawsuit was over a patent that Sharing Sound owned for the online distribution of digital music files. The companies mentioned in the lawsuit included Apple, Microsoft, Napster, Rhapsody, Amazon, and Netflix. Today, however, Apple has officially settled the patent dispute.

According to the lawsuit, “The patent being contested – U.S. Patent Number 6,247,130, titled ‘Distribution of musical products by a website vendor over the Internet’ – would essentially prevent all these companies from using any type of online store environment which allows them to provide song previews, a shopping cart or even a music player.”

Signing off on the settlement was Judge David Folsom of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas. No additional details were mentioned in the settlement.

TechCrunch notes that if this patent were enforced, it could have been devastating to one of Apple’s strongest business models.

via MacRumors

 

Follow this article’s author, Cory Bohon on Twitter.

 

 

 

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iOS 4.2 Beta 2 and iTunes 10.1 Beta Ready for Developers

iOS developers rejoice. A new round of iOS and iTunes beta software is ready for download.

If you’re a developer, head on down to the iOS Dev Center and pick yourself up these new betas while they’re still fresh. If you’re a regular Joe and/or Jane we recommend you avoid these betas unless you’re looking for a week of tears and frustration.

 

Follow this article’s author, Roberto Baldwin, on Twitter.


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NBC Chief Not Keen On iTunes Platform For TV Shows

zucker

(Image courtesy of businessinsider.com)

Jeff Zucker doesn’t exactly look thrilled in that picture does he?  Maybe it’s because he’s not exactly pleased with Apple’s 99-cent rental service for TV shows, saying it “would devalue our content.”  Ouch.

Zucker said that NBC probably would not be joining their rivals’ footsteps in an effort to make their TV shows available for the new 99-cent rental platform that had been mentioned earlier this month.

“We do not think 99 cents is the right price point for our content.  … We thought it would devalue our content,” said Zucker at a Goldman Sachs investor conference.

Backing up his claim was that NBC shows can already be downloaded for .99 on iTunes already as it is.

Previously, Apple had come to terms with News Corp’s FOX and Walt Disney’s ABC in order to make their shows available for 99 cents per rental when the new Apple TV box had been launched.

On that note, News Corp President Chase Carey, who had also been speaking at the conference, said that the Apple 99-cent agreement was a “short-term test.”

via Reuters

Follow this article’s author, Matthew Tilmann on Twitter

 

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Why the Verizon App Store Could Save Android Without Hurting iTunes

I’ve been a Verizon customer for ten years now, since before you could purchase a monthly texting plan and unlimited minutes. I was with the company when they switched from black-and-green cell phone displays to color ones, and when Motorola was still considered one of the top tier mobile handset manufacturers. I remember my first phone with a color display–the Motorola T720i–and marveling at the phone’s texting and mobile web capabilities (back then, it only cost a month to get on Mobile Web). But then, as the phones became more colorful, and might I add “smarter”, Verizon introduced its own app store of sorts, called Get It Now. 

This “app store” was chock full of downloadable ringtones and instant messaging software, and games from well-known publishers like EA. It also introduced the idea of paying for specific software for your mobile phone that could enable your little device to do more than you thought it was capable of. At the time, it was a great idea to put this kind of expandability on a phone–the kind of handsets that we would refer to now as “dumb” phones. But as the cell phone market grew–and when Apple stormed the market with its very own app-enabled phone, the iPhone–Verizon had to up the ante a bit. When it introduced Android phones into its handset family late last year, those of us holding out were pleased to hear that our loyalty was honored with an operating system that was open source and an app store that wasn’t as closed as Apple’s.

But we were soon disappointed when we realized that Verizon hasn’t changed its ways. If you’re an avid listener of our weekly podcast, you might already know that I’m an Android user myself, and am smitten with the hardware performance of my HTC Incredible, call quality included. But while the cell service hasn’t let me down, the news that Verizon is planning on force feeding its own app store on its smartphone users rubbed me the wrong way at first. Why does there need to be two app stores on my phone? I’m fine with the Android marketplace and I know how to navigate it so that I stay out of trouble. Why do I have to have this extra icon in my app list when I’m not even going to use this thing? 

What didn’t occur to me is that I’m not really the typical Verizon customer. It’s my job to know these app stores from left to right, but there are a ton of Verizon users out there who are just entering the smart phone market. The minute they step into the Android Market, things get pretty shady. It’s like picking up furniture from off the street–you never know if you’re bringing home bed bugs or some other sort of nasty critters. And then if you place that nasty couch in your home, the bed bugs spread everywhere, and pretty soon you’re writhing on the floor, desperately trying to scratch the itch. In Android’s case, you never know if you’re downloading an app that’s hiding something malicious, and you might even come across something that could actually do some everlasting damage to your phone. 

Let me tell you from firsthand experience, the idea that you may have “bricked” your phone because of software will bring you to tears. I’ve always appreciated the fact that Apple requires you to sync your iPhone with iTunes because if things go bad, you always have a backup waiting for you on your hard drive. But in my case, if my phone goes kaput, all I’ve got are my contacts and recent calls saved in Google’s cloud–my apps are all gone. To add insult to injury, there is no Android Marketplace account that keeps track of the apps you purchase because developers use Google Checkout. So without the iTunes backbone, I am virtually alone in this ever expanding marketplace, and I can’t even tether the thing for free. 

So this is where the Verizon app store could actually save Android because it can offer a regulated marketplace where the transactions are actually accounted for. No longer will Verizon Android users purchase apps from unknown developers. Instead, Verizon will make sure that these apps are fit for the phones they’re selling, and account for the cash passed between developer and consumer. The Verizon app store would only work on handsets stocked with Android 2.2, but it would be a great entry point for new smartphone users who are terribly afraid of contracting a virus on their pricey handsets. I wouldn’t put it past Verizon to overcharge for these applications, anyway, but at least they could be trusted. And like Apple’s App Store, that means that someone would be looking to make sure that the apps in the store aren’t completely a waste of time–if you thought Apple had a problem with Fart apps, you haven’t seen the myriad of lame soundboards and “skins” that are infiltrating the Android Marketplace. By comparison, the Apple apps that are approved are better because there is someone on the other side saying, “We have enough of these silly apps. Let’s try some other kind of silly app from now on.” There’s no one to do that for Android, and I am not at all amused with the variety of Peter Griffin soundboard apps available right now. 

There is one major problem I foresee from a Verizon app store, however. Currently, there’s a Verizon apps section in the Android Market, called Vcast Apps. The page includes suggestions from Verizon of Android apps that you might want to download–like Skype, the official Twitter app, and Layar–and a few of Verizon’s own proprietary applications that were annoyingly installed on my Incredible when I updated to Froyo. One of these apps includes Verizon’s own navigation app, which I’m too afraid to even start up lest I incur an extra charge on my already expensive monthly bill. On the older Verizon phones, navigation was also available, which makes sense if you’re stuck with a sort of “regular” phone (as I like to call it these days) and want to opt in for that feature. But for a platform like Android that already comes with a very powerful navigation system (with turn-by-turn directions, even), why bothering offering another?

Well, I’d wager that it’s because Verizon wants to make money off of consumers that don’t know any better. It’s an extra for Verizon’s navigation application to work; Google Maps is free with any data plan. I think Verizon is afraid of losing its monopoly in this open Android market and not being able to profit from it. It’s not necessarily that the app doesn’t work as well or that it is any better than what’s offered for free, it’s that Verizon wants you to pay them so that they can have a little more control over your phone. 

Android is an open platform and I doubt Google will ever bother to fight with carriers because of its open nature. They probably just care about getting their software on as many devices as possible. Great for them, but bad for the average consumer, who may not be aware that based on their carrier they may not be getting a very “open” market place after all. This is why I prefer Apple’s infrastructure. They’ve got a piece of software in iTunes that, even with its flaws, keeps your phone tied to your computer so that your data is never lost. And, their regulated App Store means that I don’t have to sift through pages of crap apps looking for what I want. Apple is smart enough to offer up the right kind of competition by allowing in more than one type of app, so even if there are a variety of flashlight apps to choose from, they all offer something a bit different. With Android, it’s the carriers that have control–essentially, The Man–and with the iPhone, your App Store is run by Jolly Ol’ Father Apple (Um, Steve?). 

Verizon obviously wants the iPhone to steal AT&T customers away, and they know that this is only slightly possible because they, purportedly, have better service (this is all depending on your coverage area, but roll with us here). You can bet that Apple won’t be lenient about letting Verizon tromp over its App S
tore the way it has with Google’s Android Marketplace. Just like with AT&T, Apple will play hardball. But, this is a good thing. It’s not that we can’t expect Verizon will have these exact same apps in the App Store if Apple does release a CDMA iPhone (all of which will undergo their own arduous App Store approval process), but it means that Verizon will have to figure out a way to move away from their old habits and become accustomed to the new reality of app marketplaces.

If Verizon moves away from this model, then it will be easier for the carrier to compete in the smartphone war. After all, who would consider switching to Verizon if it meant that their iPhone was going to be filled with proprietary apps? All they care for are the ones that Apple gives them. If the CDMA iPhone stays the same as its predecessor, then Apple fans will have more of a reason to head to another carrier because it will be just the same as AT&T’s. And Verizon loyalists will jump for joy because finally, their carrier isn’t offering a phone that’s bloated with proprietary apps.

So tell us, readers. How would you feel if Verizon put in their own proprietary apps on your iPhone? Would you still be inclined to switch carriers? Do you still think a CDMA iPhone is even in the cards at this point?

Follow this article’s author, Florence Ion, on Twitter.

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