Apple did not announce a subscription iTunes access model – which has been mooted by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times – along with iPhones and iPods on Wednesday.
And that’s just fine. Such a move, when it happens, will redefine the industry forever – but Apple, and music, can afford to wait.
Pay TV-like subscription access to unlimited content is the hot new consumer furrow being ploughed by the likes of Netflix, Spotify, Rhapsody and more. Ethan Kaplan, a Warner Music Group technology SVP until 2011, says:
“When Apple goes subscription streaming, it won’t be a surprise. Apple has had a subscription product ready for a while.”
Before it goes live, however, two things will likely need to happen:
1) Streaming rivals must prove that there is a meaningful enough business opportunity in subscription to draw Apple out.
2) iTunes Store’s track download business must plateau or begin shrinking, pushing it to discover new pastures.
We’re not there yet
Right now, subscription services may be gaining traction, but there were only 13.4 million music subscribers in the world last year (source: IFPI), and a crossover with downloads is some way off. It is as yet far from certain that everyone will want to move from ownership to access.
Growth in digital music sales may have slowed since Apple’s download store brought the business in to the 21st century in 2003, but U.S. digital music revenue still rose a worthwhile nine percent through last year (source: IFPI).
Google and major book publishers have settled a lengthy legal battle over digital copyrights, but a bigger dispute still looms with thousands of authors who allege that Google is illegally profiting from their works.
The truce announced Thursday ends a federal lawsuit filed in 2005 by several members of the Association of American Publishers after Google Inc. began stockpiling its Internet search index with digital duplicates of books scanned from libraries.
Apple Inc.’s iPhone 5 won the backing of Consumer Reports, whose criticism of an earlier model became known as “Antennagate” and who said the latest device is among the best on the market despite its map flaws.
Google has maintained that its scanning is covered by fair-use provisions of copyright law, although it offered to remove specific books from its index upon request. It also showed only snippets of the copyrighted books unless permission was given to show more.
Publishers and authors, however, insisted that Google needed explicit permission from them before making the digital copies, let alone showing even snippets of text from the books on Google’s website.
We just got word this morning that the very cool internet glue service IFTTT was being forced to remove any of its Triggers that have to do with Twitter.Yes, IFTTT is a service beloved by tech nerds, but this change also signals something important about Twitter’s future relationship with developers — something contrary to its previous statements about its recent API changes.
IFTTT, if you’re not familiar, is a service that allows you to hook together cool Internet things like Twitter, Facebook, Pusher, SMS, RSS and many more to do interesting stuff. You could, for instance, push a tweet out when an RSS feed is updated, or pull down your tweets to archive them or, and this is a big one, cross-post tweets to other services.
Well, earlier today, IFTTT CEO Lane Tibbets said that it would have to stop offering the Triggers related to Twitter. “As a result of these changes, on September 27th we will be removing all Twitter Triggers, disabling your ability to push tweets to places like email, Evernote and Facebook. All Personal and Shared Recipes using a Twitter Trigger will also be removed.”
At this point, any third party developer using Twitter’s platform for their product should probably take a very hard look at the capabilities of their apps. If there’s any chance that they might overlap with Twitter’s desire to be the only way that people read tweets…it might be time to get out.
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