November 17, 2011
Google Music launched to a rather lukewarm reception. Don’t Be Too Disappointed By Google Music’s Lackluster Debut was the advice from TechCrunch. Here’s How Google Music Plans to Compete So Late in the Game was the slightly-perkier reaction from RWW. GigaOm was rather more upbeat:
The service mirrors smilar offerings from Apple and Amazon, with a unique social twist: Users will be able to share their purchases on Google+, giving their friends and followers a chance to listen (one-time only) to singles and complete albums for free.
So essentially it’s a music locker linked to an MP3 store (i.e. Android Market). We can browse, sample, and purchase. The browsing works fine. The sampling, not so much, when I tried it on iPad: the browser-based player seemed to think it was playing, but there was no sound. Playing is fine on the Windows/Chrome setup I’m currently using. The Google Music/Android Market apps won’t work on my Android phone, but then, not many recent apps work on a G1…
I tried music purchasing in two ways. First, I compared Android Market MP3 prices with Amazon. Amazon was usually less expensive; for example, Laura Veirs’ Tumble Bee is $9.49 in the DroidMart, rather than $7.99 at Amazon.
But I did already make one purchase from Android Market: Los Campesinos!’ Hello Sadness for $5.99. I’ll get round to making a Google+ playlist including tracks from this, and other music I own, soon. Right now, I’m uploading a lot of music from disc, while barely making a dent in the 20,000-track Google Music allowance.
I feel rather overwhelmed, in a good way, by the options open to the web-based music listener. I’m not blown away by Google’s offering right now, but will keep on comparing it with Amazon’s – and with Apple’s, and Spotify’s, and with other – and plan to post as I compare. I’m interested in your comparisons also, so feel free to post them as comments here.
June 25, 2011
While there seem to be some big splashes in online music services (see the previous post, about Spotify and Facebook), much of it is caused by treading water. Meanwhile, there’s significant movement in eBooks.
The current big story is Pottermore.com. JK Rowling’s new site will offer many things, including, at last, Harry Potter ebooks. Such is the e-book-business impact that the Wall Street Journal has been very Pottermore-y of late (example).
Sam Jordinson in the Guardian hailed Rowling’s marketing genius.
Pottermore.com has allowed Rowling to neatly sidestep the middle man (Amazon), maintain complete control over pricing, scoop up nearly all the profits from royalties, and keep all the sales information and the further marketing opportunities that offers to herself. She will also more than likely do all of that at a price and quality that will leave her customers almost as delighted as her publishers (who remain on board) and her accountants.
There has been some mockery of JKR’s conversion to ebooks, after years of refusing to allow (legal) Potter ebooks; now she can capture the retailer’s, as well as the author’s, share of the proceeds. I’m not inclined to join the mockery
Part of the reason is that I’ve only recently embarked on ebooks myself, having had thoughts and doubts about ebooks for some time. What’s changed is that I now have an ebook-friendly device: an iPad.
The first full-length ebook I bought was Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House. I bought it at Amazon, when it was on sale for a couple of bucks. So I am using the Kindle application on the iPad, and it’s going pretty well so far.
I can’t bring myself to pay as much for an ebook as for the corresponding physical book. That may well change with time, and would be different if the ebook had worthwhile extras.
I don’t expect to be among the many who buy ebooks at Pottermore, although I’m sure I expect I’ll give the site a try.
June 21, 2011
Facebook’s music plans involve Spotify, others, revealed Om Malik, thus setting the tone for this week’s conversation about online music.
Last week’s conversation was more about Spotify itself, with $100M in new funding giving a bump to the long-running rumor that the US launch really is near. A deal with Facebook was often mentioned (although sometimes with a note that Facebook was probably not interested in teaming up).
I have more curiosity than enthusiasm about Spotify’s arrival, music on Facebook, and the intersection of the two. I miss Lala, which was acquired by Apple back in 2009, and haven’t enjoyed any other service nearly as much since. Amazon, Apple, and Google have of course each launched a music locker, each with different features above and beyond the basic locker. None of them gives me the control that Lala did.
I’ll try Spotify when it launches, but I fear that its US launch will come too late, and in the shadow of Facebook.
June 7, 2011
Three years ago, I received a review copy of Groundswell, the book about “social technologies” by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. I was very impressed by it, as my review post shows.
The other new chapter is on Twitter, which has grown to be as big as a (fail) whale in the three years since the Groundswell hardback. In some ways, the addition of a chapter on a particular tool goes against a strength of the book. To quote myself: “the authors resist the temptation to provide a lot of detail about specific tools… the tools will change.”
Perhaps the addition of a Twitter chapter is an implicit prediction that Twitter is here to stay, at least for a few years. If so, then the absence of a chapter on Facebook is interesting…
May 26, 2011
ProjectSlice aims to help you organize your online shopping by analyzing your inbox, as Leena at TechCrunch puts it. I’m on the waitlist for the beta.
I’ve started using the Yahoo mail app, which has found a recent purchase from Amazon and the recentish purchase of an iPad from Apple. I can’t think of anything recent that the Yahoo app has missed. I was surprised that its request for an OpenID was out in the open. I’m pleasantly surprised that it didn’t insist on a Facebook or Twitter id.
Some other purchases go through my ChangingWay email (andrew@). I’ll have to wait for the beta to see how well it integrates mailboxes. It’ll be interesting to see how it handles requests to sign up for ProjectSlice from people who are already using the Yahoo app. Seamlessly, I hope, but we’ll see.
ProjectSlice has received quite a lot of coverage already (e.g., GigaOm, RWW). That’s not surprising, given that those who blog about tech are likely to do a lot of their shopping online. The $9M in funding probably doesn’t hurt, either.
May 12, 2011
So, Facebook “hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public-relations firm, to pitch anti-Google stories to newspapers, urging them to investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy.” I am rather late to the party in using that quote from Dan Lyons at the Daily Beast.
But I can’t resist jumping on this rather lovely insight into how low Facebook will stoop. And I can’t resist adding further quotes, this time from Michael Arrington’s account of the story:
- “it’s not an exaggeration to say they’re changing the world’s notions on what privacy is.” They are Facebook. I hope that they are not changing the world’s notion of privacy. But they are certainly demonstrating how much of it people are willing to trade for being part of a large online herd.
- “secretly paying a PR firm to pitch bloggers on stories going after Google, even offering to help write those stories and then get them published elsewhere, is not just offensive, dishonest and cowardly. It’s also really, really dumb.” Yes, and that’s the feel-good aspect of the story: the stupidity of Facebook.
- “Google is probably engaging in some somewhat borderline behavior by scraping Facebook content… But many people argue… that the key data, the social graph, really should belong to the users, not Facebook.” Yes it should. But Facebook users should by now understand that they are the product, not the customer.
- “Does anyone not see the irony of having to sign in via Facebook to leave a comment on this Techcrunch article?” That’s the first comment on Michael’s article (as of right now), and several other comments make a similar point. If TechCrunch knows Facebook to be dishonest, cowardly, and dumb, why is it inflicting Facebook’s comment system on the TC community?
March 29, 2011
Amazon Cloud Drive is your hard drive in the cloud. You can use it, along with Amazon Cloud Player, as a music locker.
There’s coverage all over the place. NPR is mainly positive, but points out that there are legal challenges to music lockers. TechCrunch describes Amazon’s offering as fierce competition for existing music locker services, given the space it offers and its integration with Amazon’s MP3 store.
At Mashable, Ben Parr actually used the service before posting about it. Good for him! His first impressions are more positive than mine. To Ben, “it became apparent that Amazon wasn’t launching some half-baked product.” To me, it seemed strange that deleting just one MP3 file caused Amazon Cloud Drive to think that I had no files left, even though I was using some of my space allowance.
I’m confident that Amazon will fix the early bugs quickly, and otherwise improve its cloud drive and player. As an example of an improvement, how about looking at my prior Amazon MP3 purchases, and offering to shift them into my locker without having to locate them on my computer and then upload them?
This music locker service combines several of Amazon’s strengths: cloud management, MP3 store, brand name, etc. You get 5 GB of storage for free. To add another 20 GB, you only need to buy one MP3 album. MP3 purchases are automatically added to your locker, and do not count against your storage quota.
Now, let’s see what Apple, Google, and others come back with…
March 21, 2011
The big tech/business story of the week is the AT&T/T-Mobile deal: AT&T wants to buy T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom, and Telekom wants to sell, given the $39 billion price tag. One of the things I mean by “big” is “lots of coverage.”
If I had to pick two pieces of required reading, the first would be Om’s account of who loses in this deal. “It’s hard to find winners, apart from AT&T and T-Mobile shareholders.” I can’t see that consumers will win from a deal that reduces the number of mobile phone competitors in the USA to two (or three, if you’re Sprint, or a lawyer for AT&T).
The second piece of required reading was the agreement on my T-Mobile G1 phone, to see when the agreement expires. It expires in August this year. I expect the regulatory scrutiny to last beyond then. I’m not sure what I’ll do for a phone after August…
March 20, 2011
John Battelle (via Toni) seems to think along the same lines, and to have been prodded to commit his thoughts to paper, or at least to presentation and to pixels. Here’s his slide comparing core values of Web 2.0 from way back in 2004/5 with today’s web and with today’s apps.
When it comes to apps’ popularity, the bottom line is rich user experience. Apps’ UX lead is “so compelling we may be willing to give up all the other principles of Web 2 just to have a great experience.” Who’s this we? Well, it may include me once I get my iPad 2… but I doubt it.
March 11, 2011
After years of being annoyed by Apple, I find myself at the online store, with an iPad 2 and a smart cover in my shopping cart. Since you ask: 16GB with Wi-Fi, black, engraved; orange.
You might also be asking what I’ve found annoying about Apple. There are three main things: smug, overpriced, closed. The first of those is still there, and is unlikely to go away any time soon.
As for overpriced, $500 doesn’t seem like a lot to pay for such a cool tablet. And there’s free shipping! And free engraving! (At least, right now there is.) And think of the hundreds of dollars I’d be saving by getting the Wi-Fi version, which doesn’t involve a contract with a phone company!
So why haven’t I ordered the thing already? Partly because $500 is still a lot of money, and I can’t claim that I really need an iPad.
Then there’s the closed thing. That’s troubling enough to deserve its own post – or at least, to cause some more soul-searching before I finally rationalize my decision to actually place the order.