AfterDawn: Tech news

News written by Ben Reid

AfterDawn: News

iTunes music sales exceed 2.5billion - Apple unstoppable?

Written by Ben Reid @ 11 Apr 2007 6:12

iTunes music sales exceed 2.5billion - Apple unstoppable? Recently, consumer electronics giant Apple Inc. announced that its market leading iPod music devices had sold 100 million units since launch in November 2001, making it the fastest selling music player in history.

Apple's online music outlet the iTunes Store has enjoyed similarly great success. It boasts the world’s largest online catalog with over five million songs, 350 television shows and over 400 movies. The iTunes Store has sold over 2.5 billion songs since its debut as well as 50 million TV shows and over 1.3 million movies. The diamond combination of the iPod and the Store has kept Apple sitting pretty at the summit of the digital music market.

Despite rivals Microsoft putting a lot of effort behind the release of its so-called "iPod killer" Zune & Zune Marketplace combo, the software maker has done little to rain on Apple's parade, with modest sales since its launch last November - although Microsoft remains confident that it will have reached its one-millionth Zune owner by June.


AfterDawn: News

Halo 3 gets beta release next month

Written by Ben Reid @ 10 Apr 2007 5:22

Halo 3 gets beta release next month One of the most highly-anticipated titles so far for Microsoft's Xbox360 console - Halo 3 - is set to be released to the public at beta stage from 16 May. The beta will last for three weeks ending on 7 June.

Gamers will be able to experience the online multiplayer aspect of the game from which developers Bungie can gain feedback.

The Halo brand has been a huge success since its launch along with Microsoft's original Xbox console, with the games shifting in excess of 14.7m copies worldwide, & more than 800m hours of online Halo games having been played. It has also made large sums in sales of action figures, graphics novels, books and clothes

Halo 3 is expected to be released towards the end of the year, and is key to Microsoft in its battle with the rivalling Playstation 3 from Sony and Nintendo's Wii console.

Bungie's content manager Frank O'Connor said the beta would contain "quirks, a couple of roughedges". "A lot of secret features are hidden in this beta. We're keeping a lot of our powder dry for Fall," he added.


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Future of low-end PS3 appears in doubt

Written by Ben Reid @ 09 Apr 2007 10:23

Future of low-end PS3 appears in doubt In spite of the fact that maker Sony denies that it has been discontinued, the 20GB version its PlayStation 3 console is apparently becoming harder to track down, with at least three retailers no longer offering the cheaper, less featured version.

In a statement, the electronics giant announced that the 20GB version, which retails at $499 is still shipping to retailers. The general feeling among retailers is that there's a lack of demand by consumers for the 20GB model.

Sony has stressed a number of times that the 60GB PS3 is the more popular of the two, therefore some stores have opted to only sell that model.

The PS3, which debuted in Europe last month, is currently struggling up saleswise with Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Nintendo's Wii console. Research figures show that Sony's sales have dropped off sharply while the Xbox 360 and Wii have shown more seasonal declines.


AfterDawn: News

High-Def revolution hurting DVD rentals?

Written by Ben Reid @ 08 Apr 2007 12:25

High-Def revolution hurting DVD rentals? DVD rentals and sales have been patchy this year and John Marmaduke, CEO of Hastings Entertainment, believes that the increase in holiday sales of High-Definition televisions maybe causing consumers to stay at home and watch the growing number of HD channels -- rather than go out and rent / buy a DVD.

He reckons that instead of renting high-def DVD's to watch on their HDTV's, consumers are tuning into 24-hour HD networks such as HDNet, Discovery HD Theater and INHD because the format war between Blu-Ray and HD DVD is scaring people away. "I think the industry is being punished for no unanimity with high-def,” he said. “Anecdotally, I’m hearing a lot talking about all the high-def channels they’re discovering."

TV Predictions

AfterDawn: News

Zune price-drop coming?

Written by Ben Reid @ 07 Apr 2007 9:41

Zune price-drop coming? Software giant Microsoft may be considering different distribution models for its iPod-rivalling Zune media device, with one of the propositions said to be offering the device at a next to nothing price tied to a subscription -- similar to a cellphone contract.

"Microsoft is exploring lots of ideas, and this is just one of them," confirmed a spokesperson for the company. The spokesperson said a subsidised Zune is only one of a series of "wild ideas" that Microsoft is currently considering in an attempt to compete with Apple's upcoming iPhone. The software maker has yet to announce plans to head towards the telecommunications market, though is considering such a move.

"It's a direction Zune would want to head in, but is it going to go there immediately? Probably not," the spokesperson said.


AfterDawn: News

Canada's new Government shows support of Canadian music

Written by Ben Reid @ 06 Apr 2007 8:48

Canada's new Government shows support of Canadian music Canada's new Government has pledged $650,000 funding to Vancouver-based record label Nettwerk Productions.

The company's CEO famously blasted the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)'s tactic of tracing and suing music fans caught sharing music on P2P networks. "My artists would never sue a fan," said Terry McBride back in August of last year. "I want those fans to share that music. When [the original] Napster hit, we had the same knee-jerk reaction that everyone else did: 'Who are these kids, let's get them and sue them.' But after a while we realized that they were no different than I was when I was as a teenager, just looking to consume as much music as possible."

Of the cash-injection by the Government, Canada's Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Chuck Strahl said, "I am proud that our Government is supporting Nettwerk Productions' efforts to develop, promote and distribute works by talented Canadian songwriters such as Sarah McLachlan, the Be Good Tanya, the Great Lake Swimmers and many others."


AfterDawn: News

Apple adds "Complete My Album" function to iTunes Store

Written by Ben Reid @ 29 Mar 2007 11:01

Apple adds "Complete My Album" function to iTunes Store Consumer electronics giant Apple Inc. has announced a new feature to be added to its iTunes Store which will allow music fans to buy a complete album at a cheaper price if they've already purchased one or more of the tracks.

The first feature of its kind from any music download service, 'Complete My Album' will allow consumers a full album with discount of 99 cents per each previously downloaded Track from that album.

Albums eligible for the promotion will be listed on a special page within the iTunes Store. Users who decide they would like to purchase the rest of an album will have a deadline of 180 days from the day they purchase the track.

iTunes' vice president, Eddy Cue, noted, "Music fans can now round out their music collections by upgrading their singles into complete albums with just one click, and get full credit for those songs they have previously purchased from iTunes."


AfterDawn: News

UMS refuses to pass student details on to RIAA

Written by Ben Reid @ 28 Mar 2007 10:13

UMS refuses to pass student details on to RIAA The University of Maine System has rejected a request made by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to disclose the personal info of students alleged to have engaged in the illegal p2p sharing of copyrighted works on its campuses.

The RIAA has been dishing out letters recently to Universities notifying them that alleged pirate students face litigation, requesting that they inform students assigned to I.P. addresses said to have engaged in illegal filesharing - allowing them a chance to settle with the trade group out-of-court.

The University of Maine notified students with pending RIAA lawsuits on Friday, however the institution refuses to pass over the details of the students to the RIAA. "It's not the university's role to, in effect, serve papers on our students for another party," said John Diamond, spokesman for the university system. "We want our students to be aware of it (the suit), but we do not feel that it is our obligation to be the arm of the RIAA beyond simply sharing the information."

Diamond believes that fulfilling the RIAA's request and handing over personal info of students would see the UMS breach the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which bars the UMS from sharing private information. "The only way the RIAA can get that information is if the RIAA takes us to court to get those names," Diamond added.


AfterDawn: News

Bertelsmann, EMI put Napster dispute to rest in settlement

Written by Ben Reid @ 27 Mar 2007 11:02

Bertelsmann, EMI put Napster dispute to rest in settlement Major media corporations EMI Group PLC and Bertelsmann AG have finally laid their ongoing dispute concerning Napster to rest by agreeing an out-of-court settlement.

EMI, along with a string of high-profile record labels, filed a lawsuit against Bertelsmann back in 2003, following the German company's decision in 2000 to invest in the original Napster after it was crippled by lawsuits seeking to shut down the network. Rival music companies, including EMI, alleged that Bertelsmann's $85 million investment in Napster was the equivalent to copyright infringement.

Bertelsmann pumped $85 million into Napster, but an outright takeover never materialized.

Details of the agreement were not revealed, however, Bertelsmann admits no liability. "We are pleased to have reached this agreement with Bertelsmann," said Eric Nicoli, chief executive of EMI Group. "We can now put this matter behind us and continue to pursue the development of new legitimate digital music business models."

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75% of students ignore RIAA threats

Written by Ben Reid @ 26 Mar 2007 10:32

75% of students ignore RIAA threats The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) claims that its tactic of threatening students suspected of piracy with lawsuits is a success. However, as part of the trade group's recent clampdown on p2p filesharing on university campuses, only just over quarter of 400 students threatened with litigation for illegally sharing music online have agreed to settle with the group.

The RIAA has been warning students that if they refuse to settle out of court, (which usually amounts to a settlement package of approximately $3,000), then they could end up liable to pay $750 per every song illegally distributed.

The RIAA's first batch of letters aimed at university students across North America began in February, requesting 13 different institutions to notify students that they were being sued for sharing music illegally. A second wave of letters were sent out last week to 23 universities.


AfterDawn: News

Microsoft crashes PS3's Euro launch

Written by Ben Reid @ 23 Mar 2007 12:30

Microsoft crashes PS3's Euro launch Today's European launch of Sony's eagerly-awaited Playstation 3 console has not only seen flocks of ardent gamers queue into the small hours awaiting its release, but also several publicity stunts by rivals Microsoft in an attempt to upstage the event.

At the Virgin Megastore in London's Oxford Street, the software maker handed out chairs to those queuing which had a web address to an Xbox 360 branded-site printed on them. The site "welcomes" Sony to the next generation, and ribs the Japanese entertainment company for being "late" in comparison to the 360's 2005 launch.

The launch was met with mixed feelings throughout Europe. Despite the fact several stores were kept open late especially, few French gamers took the opportunity to get their hands on one. Sony had moored a boat by the Eiffel Tower to act as a temporary base to make sales but gamers were crowded out by the media. Meanwhile, Microsoft drove its own boat covered in Xbox 360 logos in and around the area in an attempt to distract people's attentions away from the launch.

At an electronics store in Berlin, Germany, gamers who smashed their 360's off of a wall were rewarded with a free PS3.


AfterDawn: News

Disney sued by Starz Ent. over movie downloads

Written by Ben Reid @ 22 Mar 2007 1:24

Disney sued by Starz Ent. over movie downloads Buena Vista Television, a unit of media and entertainment company Walt Disney has been dealt a lawsuit by Starz Entertainment cable network for allegedly selling films via its movie download service which were exclusively licensed to Starz.

According to the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Thursday, a licensing agreement was made between the two firms back in 2005 which prohibited Disney from selling some of its films for transmission online before or during a certain period of exclusivity for Starz.

Since 1993, the Liberty Media owned firm has forked out in excess of $1 billion for the exclusive rights to Disney films, says the lawsuit, and Starz also has the right to offer the movies on its Vongo subscription download service.

"Our issue is that the contract has a clear prohibition from them doing this and we gave them notice, had a number of exchanges and had meetings and they denied our request for relief," said Starz Entertainment Chairman and Chief Exec Robert Clasen, speaking with Reuters. "We are absolutely adamant in protecting our contractual rights and licenses."

Disney has enjoyed huge sucess on the Internet video paid downloads front. Last year it became the first major Hollywood studio to offer its TV shows and movies via Apple's iTunes Store and now Disney's Chief Financial Officer is predicting the company's profits to reach $25 million in the first year from the service. And only last month, Disney -- along with the other major studios -- made deals to sell movies online via WalMart's newly-launched online download service.


AfterDawn: News

YouTube strikes content deal with CBS

Written by Ben Reid @ 17 Mar 2007 11:32

YouTube strikes content deal with CBS Media giant CBS has announced that it has sealed a deal with Google Inc.-owned YouTube. The pairing will create a brand new web channel which will feature clips and highlights from the annual "March Madness" NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) basketball tournament.

The deal comes as somewhat of a surprise, in light of CBS' former sister company Viacom's recent copyright infringement litigation against Google and Youtube, and considering original talks between YouTube and CBS appeared to break down last month.

The line-up will include clips of the tournament as well as other aspects such as press conferences, interviews and highlights. The service will be free, however it will be ad-supported and include links to other CBS and NCAA Web pages.

According to YouTube, the new service will allow game clips to be uploaded to the site in near-real-time so users can view, comment, rate, recommend & post their own video responses.

CBS' main goal, said Quincy Smith, the company's President, is to try and reach out to -- rather than try to discourage -- YouTube's audience. "Above all the other good news, what's most exciting here is the extent to which CBS is learning about its audience as never before," he said. "Professional content seeds YouTube and allows an open dialog between established media players and a new set of viewers."


AfterDawn: News

Clouseau to inspect illegally shared P2P files

Written by Ben Reid @ 16 Mar 2007 11:48

Clouseau to inspect illegally shared P2P files SafeMedia Corp., a company dedicated to helping safeguard consumers' networks from "every risks associated with illegal file sharing of copyrighted files," has invented 'Clouseau', which it claims is the first system of its kind designed solely to eradicate P2P piracy.

Clouseau is a network appliance deployed on subnets that will look to stamp out all unauthorized P2P activity.

"Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs are lost to P2P piracy. Current technology is clearly ineffective at stopping it," claimed Safwat Fahmy, chief exec and founder of SafeMedia.

"Clouseau is the best-of-breed internet piracy prevention solution designed from the ground up specifically to stop all P2P internet piracy no matter where it originates worldwide," Fahmy continued. "It is safe and invisible, causes little or no latency in the network, self-healing and user-friendly, and completely shields user anonymity."

The device, claim SafeMedia, uses fingerprinting and DNA markers which monitor incoming and outgoing packets so that illegal P2P is snuffed out while allowing legal P2P to pass through to its destination without any noticeable delay.

"We have made Clouseau dynamically proactive, safe and hardened. Pirates are smart and innovative, and so is Clouseau," added Fahmy. "Our technology is dynamic, sees through all multi-layered encryptions, adaptively analyses network patterns and constantly updates itself. Packet examinations are non-invasive and infallible. There are no false positives."


AfterDawn: News

BSA cracks down on auction pirates

Written by Ben Reid @ 16 Mar 2007 11:17

BSA cracks down on auction pirates The Business Software Alliance (BSA), which represents and protects the copyrights of many of the major software companies, has halted five alleged software pirates who it claims were distributing counterfeit versions of its members' software on internet auction sites. The move was said to be the start of an international crackdown on unlicensed software sales online.

"To all offenders out there, large or small, our message remains the same: software piracy is illegal and we will be bringing legal actions against internet pirates to tackle this serious problem" said John Wolfe, director of internet enforcement for the BSA. "The international litigation announced today is just the beginning of our expanded efforts to fight global software piracy."

One of the sellers is based in the US, one is from Austria, with two coming from Germany. The fifth person, who is UK-based, is suspected to have played a role in the running of a website selling illegal copies of expensive design and architecture software product Autodesk. Microsoft, Adobe, McAfee and Symantec are other companies said to have had their software pirated by the alleged offenders.


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