Store services down currently, no cause of downtime offered
[Update: outage has ended] Some of Apple's online services are down, for at least some users, in a prolonged attack that started around 8:30PM Pacific Time on Wednesday and is currently ongoing. Prior to that, 0.6 percent of iCloud users were cut off from iCloud Tabs and iCloud Keychain services for about an hour and 45 minutes, beginning around 7PM PT. At the time of writing, Apple's System Status page shows the App Store, Apple TV, the iBookstore, iTunes Store, Mac App Store and Volume Purchase Program are either slow or down entirely for some percentage of users.
Apple Music and selected iTunes Stores now available locally
While the news will come as a surprise to those outside China, the country is only just today getting its own Apple Music service and some of the various iTunes Stores, including Movies and the iBookstore for the first time. The various stores will, as is the case in most other countries, emphasize native artists at least as much as western acts. Local heroes such as G.E.M. and Eason Chan will be seen in the Music store alongside popular western artists. The Movies store will feature Chinese cinema and Hollywood films, while the iBookstore will offer a wide selection of native-language e-books.
Connectivity down globally, but issue resolved by 11:30AM ET
A widespread but apparently brief outage was reported to have affected Apples online digital storefronts this morning, such as the App Store, iTunes Store and Mac App Store. The problem appeared to occur worldwide, but Apple's System Status Page did not acknowledge the issue until hours after it was resolved, which occurred at approximately 8:30AM Pacific. The company suffered a much longer and more severe outage just two weeks ago.
Mac App Store, iTunes Store preventing users from buying content
[Update: Apple acknowledges issues] A range of Apple's online services are experiencing issues, with the majority of problems relating to the company's online stores. The iTunes Store, App Store, and Mac App Store are all apparently having issues loading up elements of some store pages, though the issues are also apparently affecting back-end services as well as those on the consumer side.
Appears to replace defunct Single of the Week
Apple has launched a new area on the iTunes Store in the US, simply dubbed "Free on iTunes." rel='nofollow' The section highlights free song and TV downloads. Some musical examples include singles from Waters, Sharon Van Etten, The Babies, and Penguin Prison. TV content includes episodes from Backstrom, 12 Monkeys, The Musketeers, and other shows.
US customers get holiday channels on iTunes Radio instead
As was the case last year, Canadians are once again getting a sale on selected albums in iTunes as part of a "Boxing Day" event, part of a traditional observance throughout Canada and a number of other Commonwealth countries. The UK iTunes Store is also having a sale on hit albums, but doesn't label the event as a "Boxing Day" sale. US users don't get a sale, but are instead enjoying special holiday channels on iTunes Radio, which remains unavailable in the UK and Canada.
Explains why DRM was formerly required by record companies, more
Day three of the Real vs. Apple trial over allegations that Apple deliberately blocked rival stores' DRM music files on the iPod (a potential antitrust violation) continued today with testimony from Eddy Cue, Apple's SVP of Internet software and services and the executive in charge of the iTunes Store. Cue was on the stand for hours, going through an explanation of why the original iTunes Store had to have digital rights management in the first place, how Apple developed its FairPlay wrapper, and why it chose not to license FairPlay to others.
First non-disaster donation portal, will be active throughout October
City of Hope, a research and treatment charity focused on cancer and diabetes among other life-threatening illnesses, will be the recipient of donations given by iTunes users through a new portal on the iTunes Store and available for iOS, Mac and Windows users. The move, the first time Apple has set up a donation system for a non-disaster relief organization, is in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and will be available throughout October.
App and Media stores, iTunes Match and Radio unavailable to some users
[Update: problems resolved as of approximately 7:45PM ET] For the second time in as many days, Apple's online stores are unavailable for an undetermined percentage of users. The current outage, which began around 4:30PM ET and is ongoing, is affecting the both the iOS and Mac App Stores, the iBookstore, and a variety of iTunes services such as iTunes Match, iTunes in the Cloud, iTunes Radio and the iTunes Store. Other iCloud services, such as Siri, email, FaceTime and syncing services are not affected.
Customers of iTunes Music, App Store, Mac App Store and iBookstore affected
Apple's non-Apple Store commerce sites suffered some major downtime on Tuesday, with the App Store, iBookstore, Mac App Store and iTunes Music Store being inaccessible for nearly five and a half hours for some (but not all) users, from approximately 6:30PM to midnight Eastern time. During the outage, users were in some cases able to load the product pages of the sites, but unable to do anything else, while some others reported normal operations.
PayPal offering discounted UK iTunes cards at 25 percent off
PayPal is currently offering digital iTunes cards at 25 percent off for UK customers. Users can purchase iTunes codes to redeem for music, films, TV programs, games, apps and more from the iTunes Store, iBooks Store and the App Store. Content purchased can be accessed on iOS devices and Mac or PC computers. The discount offer is available until tonight at 11:59 BST.
Comic legend offered the original voice to the 'Your Verse' campaign
[Updated with addition of feature spot on the main Apple website] The death of actor and comic Robin Williams has spawned a dedicated section at the iTunes Store where fans can find various movies, specials and other performances from the widely-loved actor and comedian. Among the offerings are both videos and audio-only appearances, celebrating the diversity of his career along with a brief biographical note. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Nest CEO Tony Fadell were among the luminaries that remembered Williams in tweets on Monday.
Mixvibes' Cross DJ 3.1 released, DJ competition announced
Mixvibes has introduced the newest version of its cross-platform software, Cross DJ v3.1.0. The software provides users with the tools needed to DJ, such as browsing track catalogues, and monitoring playing track's peaks and phrasings. The new version allows for the ability of users to record their mix and share it on Mixcloud and Youtube, as well as Dailymotion.
WeatherPro for iPad adds 18 hour forecast, radar preview tile
MeteoGroup has released an update for WeatherPro for iPad, featuring additions to its forecast screen as well as its premium version. A dynamic 18-hour forecast is now a part of the forecast options, as well as the addition of a new radar preview tile. Premium subscribers can customize the new radar tile to preview the weather maps, and also access a brief overview on the lockscreen that automatically refreshes. Radar coverage for Europe now encompasses Spain and Scandinavia. WeatherPro for iPad is priced at $4, and can be downloaded through the iTunes Store.
Soundhound update for iOS features an "Add to Spotify" button
Music search and discovery app Soundhound has launched a new feature for iOS users. Integrating Spotify, Soundhound now includes an "Add to Spotify" function, allowing users to turn discovered music into a playlists within Spotify, without leaving the Soundhound app. Users can either automatically add songs, or tap the 'Add to Playlist' icon on the Soundhound results page.
Samsung launches NFC-enabled printer range within small and mid-sized market
Samsung has announced the launch of NFC-enabled printers this week at the Samsung European Forum, including the monochrome laser Xpress M2880 Series and color laser Xpress C1860 Series. Both printers offer fast printing, at 28 pages and 18 pages per minute respectively. Featuring NFC and Wi-Fi Direct, users can print wirelessly by way of tapping their smartphone on the printer for sending files to be printed, or execute printing from a Samsung Galaxy device with its default print button, via a Wi-Fi connection.
FitBit update features MobileTrack activity tracking for iPhone 5s
FitBit has announced an update to its iOS fitness app, released today in the App Store. FitBit allows users to monitor their exercise activity with their iPhone, track their stats and set fitness goals. Version 2.1 of FitBit features MobileTrack, which utilizes the M7 coprocessor in the iPhone 5s to track basic activity as it occurs.
Set-top gets Chromecast-like content streaming
Apple has released an anticipated firmware update for the Apple TV, v6.0. The main addition is support for iTunes Radio, Apple's new streaming music service, also available on Mac, Windows, and iOS devices. Some other changes include podcast sync, access to shared Photo Streams, and the ability to listen to music purchased from the iTunes Store directly. Version numbers for Apple TV are typically behind that of the iOS release they are drawn from.
Man alleges added $1 charge reaped 'millions in undeserved profits'
A San Francisco man is suing Apple for formerly allowing people who rent high-definition movies even though their equipment is incapable of displaying the format -- meaning the customers who didn't understand the difference essentially got charged $1 more than they should to rent movies or other videos from the iTunes store. Apple has since corrected the issue, and now displays a warning when HD-renting customers are using standard-definition (SD) devices, but plaintiff Scott J. Weiselberg claims that while the rented movie would fall back to SD automatically, Apple kept the $1 HD premium charge.
Follow brief outage for iCloud affecting 1.5 percent of customers
For about an hour and 20 minutes earlier today, some 20 percent of users trying to access the iTunes Store and associated services such as the App Store and iBookstore were blocked from doing so due to a service outage, Apple reports. According to its Services Status page, the problem began at 7:25PT and lasted until 8:45PT this evening. Earlier in the day, a small (1.5) percentage of users were hit with a brief iCloud outage that lasted about 45 minutes in the late afternoon, Pacific Time.
Music, video still low-margin; growth and software add billions
A further analysis of the iTunes Store by noted analyst Horace Dediu of Asymco estimates that sales of Mac and iOS software from Apple (such as OS X upgrades and the iLife and iWork programs) have turned the store from a low-margin "break even" operation into a significant profit center, clearing an estimated $2 billion in annual revenue. In part, the profit comes from economies of scale as the various iTunes stores have seen massive growth in the past few years, but Apple's own software sales are the most profitable portion of that.
Report focuses on iVOD, e-sellthrough; excludes Netflix
Apple's continuing resistance to optical drives (and specifically OS-level support for Blu-ray drives) may be an annoyance for some users, but demand for optical disc-based entertainment is experiencing a decline, making the company's move prescient. Thanks to the iTunes Store and Apple's modest but growing success with the Apple TV, a new report from the NPD Group ranks iTunes as the top provider of what it calls the "iVOD" (Internet Video On Demand) market, which doesn't include streaming services like Netflix.
iTunes card business estimated to be worth over $260M to third parties
Digital iTunes Store gift cards are now on sale through Facebook Gifts, Facebook has announced. Cards can be bought in $10, $15, $25, and $50 denominations, and are the same as sending a "virtual" card to someone directly from iTunes. When sending a card, buyers also have the option of recommending specific content, including albums, songs, e-books, movies, games, and apps.
Donations benefit Red Cross for Sandy aid efforts
The US iTunes Store now features a section, accessible from the main page, that accepts donations to help with relief efforts on behalf of victims of hurricane Sandy. Apple has traditionally opened a page for Red Cross donations after disasters, and this one has preset amount options ranging from $5 up to $200. All of the donations will go directly to relief efforts, which are continuing as large sections of the ortheastern US are still without power and flooding is still an issue in areas. The area is slowly recovering, but major public safety, health and other challenges remain.
Could improve movie selection at iTunes, Google Play
HBO and Fox have renewed a rights agreement originally set to expire in 2015, AllThingsD reports. Under the new deal, Fox movies will continue appearing on HBO until 2022. More importantly, however, Fox and HBO officials say that the agreement includes a "softening" of something known as the electronic sell-through window. Previously HBO maintained a strict policy that while it was running a movie for the first time, no one else could sell or rent a title electronically.
Regional growth relatively even
As a part of its Q3 results announcement, Apple has posted a detailed breakdown (PDF) of its performance. In the Americas, for instance, revenue rose 26 percent year-over-year to hit $12.806 billion. Unlike some past quarters in fact regional growth was relatively evenly distributed, up 16 percent in Europe (to $8.237 billion), 33 percent in Japan ($2.009 billion), and 25 percent in the Asia-Pacific region ($7.887 billion). Worldwide retail revenues grew 17 percent to $4.084 billion.
Hong Kong iTunes Store launch marred by bad translations
Apple has pulled a Russian-language malware app from the App Store, according to The Loop. The app, Find and Call, was identified as a trojan on Thursday by security firm Kaspersky. Users who downloaded the title would have their address books surreptitiously uploaded to a remote server, which would then spam text messages purported to be from the user to contacts including a link to download the app. An Android version of the app was also available at one point, but has gone missing from Google Play.
Includes music, movies, iCloud services
Apple has announced that the iTunes Store is now available in 12 new regions in Asia. These include Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, as well as Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Macau, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Vietnam. Local visitors can now buy music from iTunes -- including local and international artists -- and either rent or buy movies, including titles from major studios like Fox, Paramount, Sony, Disney, and Warner Brothers.
Launch could be announced Wednesday
Apple is on the verge of announcing iTunes music, movies, and TV shows for several important Asian regions, sources say. An event is allegedly planned for tomorrow in Hong Kong; it may play host to musician Jason Mraz, as well as representatives from a number of Asian music labels. The labels are said to have been in talks with Apple as of last week, which may still be ongoing. New launch regions are believed to include Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.
Apple marketshare drops to 32.3 percent
In 2011, Netflix surpassed Apple in terms of US online movie revenue, according to IHS. Netflix's share of the market jumped to 44 percent; by comparison, it had less than 1 percent in 2010. Apple controlled 60.8 percent of revenue in 2010, but even though its revenue has continued to grow, its marketshare has shrunk to just 32.3 percent.
Company may be looking to control knowledge of jailbreaks
For a brief time on Thursday Apple was censoring appearances of the word "jailbreak" on the iTunes Store, reports note. One example included the Thin Lizzy album and song of the same name, which were suddenly renamed "J*******k." Other instances of the word, though, are said to have remained unaffected. By Thursday afternoon Eastern time, the extra censorship is observed to have disappeared.
Dark Knight, Happy Feet, others now in max HD
Warner Bros. has begun offering parts of its movie catalog in 1080p HD on iTunes. Shoppers can now buy titles such as 300, Batman Begins, Clash of the Titans, Happy Feet, Speed Racer, and The Dark Knight for $15.
Company insists no refunds are possible
A New York resident, Robert Herskowitz, has filed a class action lawsuit against Apple, accusing the company of double-billing for purchases on the iTunes Store. Herskowitz recently bought the Adam Lambert song "Whataya Want From Me." Submitted court documents claim that after discovering double-billing for the track, Herskowitz immediately contacted Apple, only to receive an automated message telling him saying "[Apple is] reviewing your request and will send you a personal response soon."
Range extends from Smart Covers to iTunes rentals
Apple has won the rights to 25 new US patents, covering numerous different products, Patently Apple observes. Some of these include a second patent on the iTunes Store and its rental system, and a fifth patent on Time Machine, featuring an interface capable of showing earlier versions of files. The former dates back to 2008, while the latter was originally submitted in 2007.
Company steered away from streaming, P2P
Apple has won a patent on the original concept and interface for the iTunes Store, Patently Apple notes. "Broadly speaking, the invention relates a graphical user interface suitable for reviewing, browsing, previewing and/or purchasing media items. The graphical user interface can be presented to a user at a client (client machine). In one embodiment, the graphical user interface is presented to the user by an application program that runs on the client," part of the patent reads.
Music scam ran for over a year
A gang of 11 people of have been imprisoned or given suspended sentences in the UK after being convicted of scamming the Amazon and iTunes music stores out of royalty payments, according to Digital Trends. The scheme involved uploading music to the services and then buying it with stolen and cloned credit cards. To avoid being detected by credit card holders, the gang would never spend more than £10 in a transaction. It nevertheless managed to pull in almost £500,000, costing Amazon and Apple somewhere between £750,000 and £1 million after compensation was paid to the victims of credit card fraud.
Newer hardware required for maximum resolution
The 1080p video now sold on the iTunes Store manages its resolution without filesizes being as large as expected, Ars Technica notes. A 1080p video contains 2.25 times as many pixels as a 720p clip, but Ars remarks that the higher-resolution files are generally no more than 1.5 times as big. One example is Hugo, which is 3.99GB in 720p but only 4.84GB in 1080p.
Execs talk new iPad, Apple TV, more
[Update: Video is now available on iTunes] Apple has posted an official video stream of today's iPad press event. The focus of the event was a third-generation iPad, but Apple also introduced several other products, including a new Apple TV and the first iPad version of iPhoto. iOS 5.1 is mentioned only briefly.
Solves matching, artwork problems
To go along with iOS 5.1 and the third-generation iPad, Apple has released iTunes 10.6. The software's main addition is support for 1080p video, which is now sold on the iTunes Store, and can be recorded by both the new iPad and the iPhone 4S. Apple TV owners can view 1080p content.
iTunes Match coming in second half of 2012
The Japanese iTunes Store has gained several other features in addition to iTunes in the Cloud, Apple has announced. This includes access to ringtones, downloading music over 3G instead of just Wi-Fi, and the Complete My Album option. All music on the store is now in iTunes Plus quality, meaning DRM-free, 256kbps AAC files. In some cases, tracks have been specifically mastered for iTunes.
Would be first overhaul since 2009
Apple is at work on a major redesign of the iTunes Store, 9to5Mac claims to have learned. Plans are recently said to have been revealed to a number of record labels and other entertainment companies. The exact details are being kept private, but a redesign for the Mac/Windows version of iTunes is allegedly a "top priority" for Apple. The goal is to make it more interactive, and more efficient in terms of locating new content. Music, movies, TV shows, and the App Store are the focus areas.
Changes affected greatest hits compilations in UK
Sony has now issued a formal apology following backlash from fans of Whitney Houston who discovered that the company had raised prices on the UK iTunes Store for compilations of her work just hours after her death. Sony raised prices on Sunday for Houston's The Ultimate Collection, an older compilation from $7.83 (US equivalent) to $12.54, and the price of Whitney: The Greatest Hits from $12.54 to $15.67.
10,000 yen off Mac, iTunes downloads
Apple is launched the annual Japanese version of its back-to-school promotion, intended to encourage Mac sales. Unlike the US and Canada, many schools in Japan start classes on April 1st. This year the company is giving away a 10,000 yen ($129) gift card, which can be used toward content at the iTunes Store, the App Store, and/or the Mac App Store.
Jacked wholesale price causes spike on iTunes
Sony Music briefly inflated the price of a Whitney Houston album -- The Ultimate Collection -- only hours after the singer's death on Saturday, a Guardian report notes. The company is said to have initially raised the album's wholesale price at about 4AM on Sunday, causing its price to automatically jump at places like the iTunes Store. At the UK iTunes Store, the cost rose from £5 to £8; the album is actually an old one, a best-of compilation dating back to 1997.
Apple retail rises 59 percent over Q1 2011
Coming alongside the formal announcement, Apple has published a detailed breakdown of its Q1 2012 financial results. The Americas and Japan saw the biggest regional surges in revenue, with the former up 92 percent year-over-year to $17.714 billion, and Japan up 148 percent to $3.55 billion. Europe was up 55 percent to $11.256 billion, while the Asia-Pacific region rose 54 percent to $7.697 billion, helped partly by a 58 percent surge in Mac sales to 814,000. Worldwide retail revenue grew 59 percent to sit at $6.116 billion.
Allows cheaper episode purchases
Apple has quietly rolled out a new feature on the iTunes Store, Complete My Season Pass. The concept is similar to the Complete My Album option for music. If a person already has some episodes of a TV show on iTunes, they can now buy the rest of a season at a discounted Season Pass rate, instead of paying for a full Season Pass or buying remaining episodes individually.
iTunes Match comes to Brazil
Apple has now formally confirmed the expansion of the iTunes Store to a host of Latin American countries. The strongest emphasis is on Brazil, where the initial music catalog is said to include over 20 million songs, including the first digital editions of Roberto Carlos' collection. Apple says that most songs are priced at 99 cents, and most albums at $9.99.