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iBook Store Floundering Six Months After Launch

When Steve Jobs talked up iBooks earlier this year, it sounded like it had the potential to put reigning e-book champions such as Barnes & Noble and Amazon on the ropes.

However, after six months of offering up downloadable text content to capable iOS devices, it appears that the once seemingly mighty contender hasn’t been able to do much more than land a few rabbit punches. Despite the iPad’s rabid popularity, neither major publishers, nor the book buying public have embraced iBooks.

After more than half a year online, Apple’s iBook Store is still only offering up approximately 60,000 titles. When held up against the 700,000 titles offered by Amazon for their Kindle reader software and hardware solutions, Cupertino’s library looks pretty weak. Did we mention that about half of the titles available as iBooks are also available from Project Gutenberg? C’mon Steve, this is embarrassing.

The ever-vigilant Apple watchers over at The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW, y’all) have published a fascinating, if not somewhat depressing read on the current state of Apple’s once promising e-book portal, covering what works, what has failed and a few explanations for all of the above. Some of the biggest sticking points included a limited offering of books that appear in the much touted New York Times Best Seller’s List, higher prices than other e-book retailers and the utter non-existence of a recommendation system, which given Apple’s implementation of the Genius feature in iTunes, is more than a little baffling.

With how Apple’s vision has changed the very shape of the music industry, it’s surprising that they’ve yet to gain traction in the area of peddling virtual pages. Let’s hope, for those who enjoy both their iOS devices as well as a good read from time to time, they get it right eventually.

 

Follow this article’s author, Seamus Bellamy on Twitter.

 


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Apple May Be Stepping on Spotify’s Throat Over U.S. Launch

Spotify on iPhone

If you’re a U.S. music lover who enjoys streaming a huge collection to your iDevice rather than carrying it all around with you, you’ve probably at least heard of Spotify — and are still wondering why it hasn’t come to your country.

CNet is reporting that the wildly popular Swedish music streaming service Spotify continues to struggle in its efforts to launch their service in the U.S., and now it appears that Apple may have a hand in keeping the record labels from getting on board as well. The reason? The lucrative business for legal per-song downloads here, which is dominated by none other than (wait for it) Apple’s iTunes Store.

“In meetings in Los Angeles recently, Apple executives told their music industry counterparts that they had serious doubts about whether Spotify’s business model could ever generate significant revenues or profits, according to two sources with knowledge of the discussions,” CNet reveals.

“But Apple executives worried about the effects of a free music service might have on the rest of the market. They noted that it’s tough to sell something that someone else is giving away, the sources said. One industry insider said it is only logical that if Spotify were allowed to launch a free-music service here, at a time when Nielsen recently reported that the growth of digital sales has flattened out, it could eat into the businesses of proven revenue-producers like Apple and Amazon.”

Spotify has had no such problem launching in seven European countries (including the U.K., France and Spain), and has already missed two target dates for its U.S. launch due to the lack of agreements with music labels here. The company is racing to meet a third target date for the end of the year.

The company’s music streaming service already exists on the iPhone in the form of a Spotify app which streams over Wi-Fi or 3G — but U.S. customers can’t get their hands on it until such agreements are in place.

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

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Apple May Launch Newspaper Subscriptions for iPad

Just when many thought print media was going the way of the dodo, Apple released the iPad and content is exploding from every direction in the universe. From magazines, to newspapers, to television networks, the iPad seems to be the go-to device for delivering content these days. Now, Apple may have a few more tricks up its sleeves when it comes to newspaper subscriptions and the iPad.

According to a new article by the San Jose Mercury News, industry sources believe that “Apple is expected to announce soon a new subscription plan for newspapers, which hope tablets like the iPad will eventually provide a new source of profits as media companies struggle with declining print circulation and advertising revenue.”

Sources told the newspaper that Apple may be prepared to take a 30% cut of subscription profits (similar to the cuts taken in the iOS developer program).

“Publishers wanted to pay Apple a fee rather than a cut of subscription and advertising revenue, and are not happy with Apple’s terms, he said. They had hoped to offer app editions as part of subscription bundles that include print versions of the paper. Instead, they must use Apple as an intermediary with subscribers,” read the article.

According to the article, Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

Newspaper content in subscription form can be purchased through Amazon on the Kindle already, so it will be interesting to see if and how Apple’s newspaper implementation works.

via MacRumors

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

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