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.