Ten Billion Instances of Data Collection — Apple Unveils All-Time App Winners

As Apple approaches 10 billion downloads, TechCrunch chronicles Apple’s all-time best performing Apps.

Spolier Alert: You can likely guess most of them, but not all of them. For example Pandora is the #2 all-time free App, but which other music App broke the top 5?

Final Take: A careful look through the list of Apps, reinforces the potential for music companies and music products. Pandora, Shazam, Tapulous, Soundhound, etc. are all well represented.  Music is clearly one of the biggest categories — with scale, not individual artists, reigning supreme. For digital music stakeholders, the question should be “how”, not “if”.

An iDevice in Every Hand? — Apple's Numbers

Apple’s quarterly numbers are out today, and they are staggering.

Apple reported record revenue of $26.74 billion, and a record net qurterly profit of $6 billion.

All Things Digital offers a deeper dive into the quarterly numbers here.

For Digital Music afficinados the specific hardware numbers Apple reported are especially interesting:

  • 4.13 million Macs sold. +23 year over year.
  • 16.24 million iPhones sold. +86% year over year.
  • 19.45 million iPods sold. -7% year over year.
  • 7.33 million iPads sold.

Final Take: Do the math above…that is nearly 50 million new devices in the quarter alone. The vast majority of these devices are portable. Laptops, iPhones, iTouches, iPads rule the day. Steve Jobs famously redefined Apple as a “mobile products company” about a year ago, and now the numbers back this up. For digital music stakeholders, this represents both opportunity, and a challenge. The good news is that you have tens of millions of potential consumers, plugged in to devices they love and feel emotionally attached to. That’s opportunity. The challenge is all the noise. iTunes isn’t Tower Records. It’s a platform, store and application that connects the user with his or her preferred digital content. In the bygone iTunes 1.0 era (1993-1996) that content was primarily music. But now it’s a jump-ball of content choices. Apps, movies, TV shows, video games, photos, and music all fight not just for the consumers attention, but also for the bandwith on the consumers portable device. That’s a noisy challenge for digital music companies.

Still, with an iDevice in this many hands, digital music stakeholders have a fighting chance.

You're Walking Away? — iTunes closes in on 10 Billion App Downloads

On January 3rd, I took a look at how Music Apps were performing at iTunes. With a few notable exceptions like Tapulous and Smule, it wasn’t a pretty picture.

But if you are an artist, label, or company that has music as an intrinsic part of your business plan, don’t even think of walking away.

With iTunes approaching 10 billion downloads, Verizon announcing their iPhone, and Google readying their music play in support of Android, this is simply a marketplace that the music industry must become relevant in.

Luke Lewis (NME) Makes 10 Provocative Predictions — I Respond.

Here are 10 Digital Music predictions from Luke Lewis, the sharp as a tack, and highly entertaining, NME scribe.

I respond in kind. And in italics.


1. Streaming will stop looking like the future.  I disagree. I think in 2011 will see a significant rise in legal streaming. Here’s just the tip of the possibility iceberg: Spotify gets to the U.S., Apple & Google enter with streaming models,  Mog, RDIO & Rhapsody do meaningful distribution deals,  and/or Pandora wins on the car dashboard.

2. Piracy will flourish. Only half disagree.  I think we will see Piracy levels, stay more or less the same this year.

3. Bands will stop using Myspace. Agree. Abandon ship.

4. Gig-going will become more social.  Agree. Foursquare and company are real.

5. Google Music will arrive…and won’t make a difference. Agree. Google will arrive. Disagree, that it won’t make a difference. YouTube is arugubly the biggest music site in the world. Already. Google matters.

6. Corporate tie-ins will abound. Disagree. I think we are actually seeing some brand fatigue with traditional music sponsorships. Corporate money for music is way tighter than 4-5 years ago, and will continue to be tight until the economy improves.

7. Music videos will get more interactive. Agree, agree, agree. Here comes creativity.

8. Fan funding will go mainstream. Disagree. Obama on Facebook..now that was mainstream. Fan funding will grow, but more the way D2C or vinyl has grown. Incrementally.

9. Music Apps will suck less. Agree. Could they suck any more?

10. Downloads will get cheaper. This is a great closer. Agree, for the first three quarters of 2011. The Amazon Daily Deal and their $5 album customer acquisition strategy alone will drive pricing down. Also, note iTunes’ steady promotion of  69 cent songs.  But watch the end of this year and the affect of streaming. Things could shift radically, making the download a relatively expensive option, targeted for only the most engaged digital consumer.

So, don’t take my word for all thisI urge you to read Luke’s full piece here.

He’s a great writer, with a unique POV.

Steve Jobs Not Talking–Tim Cook (COO) Does This One

NPR piece on Verizon’s iPhone play features Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Operating Officer, commenting on Tuesday’s Verizon iPhone announcement.
Interesting to hear a different senior voice at Apple comment on such timely news.

Spoiler Alert: ATT scores some comparative points here as NPR digs in.

Hear or read the piece right here.

Down With Tyranny – Stewart Dissects Yesterday's Verizon iPhone Deal

Spoiler Alert: Jon Stewart is funny.

DMI Tip: Start at 3:45 mark…

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Verizon iPhone Announcement
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook

CES In The Rear View Mirror — Fred Jacobs on The Battle For The Dashboard

CES 2011 is in the rear view mirror now.

The pun is intended, as the recurring theme of this year’s event, as it concerns Digital Music, is the battle for the automotive dashboard.

I originally wrote about this on Thursday January 6th, and called out strong moves by Pandora and Clear Channel.

Revisit that piece here:
People Listen To Music In Cars?

Now, well-respected radio and media consultant Fred Jacobs responds with the Comment Of The Moment.

Spoiler Alert: Fred says terrestrial radio better wake up, or they will find themselves losing market and mindshare in the car.

One thing that stood out to me is that about the only visibility for broadcast radio (aside from Clear Channel which was more iheartradio oriented) was HD Radio. Their logo appeared during Alan Mulally’s keynote, showcasing SYNC, and HD Radio’s presence on Toyota’s new Entune platform is impressive. This may be an indication that HD Radio may be the most viable avenue for creating presence in these new hi-tech in-vehicle systems – as surprising as that sounds.

Most in broadcast radio are still under the illusion (delusion?) that they are entitled to the lion’s share of in-car listening based on historical precedent. As we saw at CES last year and this, that is rapidly not the case as these new systems are all about choice.

HD Radio is much vilified (and there have been many speed bumps along the way). But iBiquity had a booth on the floor, cars on display, and a viable presence. Acceptance by consumers and broadcasters is a “chicken/egg” thing. Broadcasters are waiting for there to be enough HD Radios before they will commit to content creation. And yet, consumers won’t bite until they are aware of content that makes it necessary to buy a radio (or a buy a vehicle that has one).

I think iBiquity is focusing on amassing as many “eggs” as possible – car companies that commit to HD Radio, thus creating that tipping point where broadcasters finally get the messge that it is real.

Additionally, you might enjoy this Endgadget review of the Toyota Entune system, and the accompanying  YouTube demo.

The Final Take: With the notable exception of Clear Channel and their iheartradio app, traditional radio has been slow to address a profoundly transforming audio entertainment landscape. CES 2011 just drove this point home, again.

Cricket Makes Some Noise at CES – – Muve Music Gets Its CES Moment

After taking a bit of a bludgeoning from Digital Music News in late December; Cricket Mobile gets a more favorable response from Endgadget today.

Spolier Alert: The Video clip here is a pure demo. No hard hitting questions, just a visual walk through of Crickets’ Muve Music attributes.

The Final Take: Cricket has always carved out a nice urban niche around their cheaper mobile plan price points. Now, with an “All-You-Can-Eat” music + data offering at $55, Cricket jumps into the mobile music fray with a compelling price point.