Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

British Music Retailers Begin Digital War

Filed under
Web

In a clear sign the digital music revolution is here to stay, Britain's major music retailers are going head-to-head for a slice of the burgeoning - and potentially very lucrative - Internet downloading market.

HMV, the biggest specialist music seller in Britain, made a big splash with the launch of its new digital service Monday, employing the band Razorlight to showcase its library of around 1.3 million tracks for consumers to download from the Internet.

But some of its thunder has been stolen by Virgin Megastores, the country's second biggest music chain, which signed up the Dandy Warhols for an ambush launch of its own digital service on Friday.

Both outlets are fighting for a share of a market that, while still small in Britain, is expected to grow exponentially. A year ago, the total number of songs officially downloaded from the Internet in Britain was 500,000 - the same number is now sold every week.

"The industry is moving on. Digital is here and it's here to stay," said Dario Betti, a new media analyst at IT consulting firm Ovum. "HMV and Virgin have been slower to get into the market but they recognize it's important to be there and not be left behind."

The digital download market in Britain has so far been dominated by Apple's iTunes music store, which offers consumers around 1.2 million tracks.

HMV and Virgin are aiming to break Apple's stranglehold by offering services that will work with several digital music players, allowing wider download possibilities and accessibility. Apple's iTunes software works only with the iPod music player.

"How many customers know that in buying an iPod, they're effectively locking oneself into a walled garden?" said John Taylor, HMV's director of e-commerce.

HMV and Virgin are both planning to offer a separate subscription service, where users pay 14.99 pounds ($27.72) a month to download as much music as they want - the catch being that if they stop paying, they lose all their music.

HMV, which has teamed up with Microsoft for its new service, has also stepped up the competition, making a special 39 pence (72 cents) offer for tracks by some new artists. It also plans to sell recordings of gigs and is formulating a film and computer game download service.

The two retailers are banking on further growth in an already booming market.

About 5 percent of Britons currently own a digital music player while legal digital sales account for less than 2 percent of the market. However, analysts expect online music sales to nearly double from 34 million pounds ($63 million) this year to 65 million pounds ($120 million) next, reaching 261 million pounds ($483 million) by 2010.

"We've taken our time to enter this new and exciting market. Our intention is to deliver a quality service that will...rival the best," said Steve Knott, Managing Director of HMV for the U.K.

Virgin founder Richard Branson is pegging his product's success on user-friendliness, compared to the more technical iPod. Like the HMV version, the Virgin product is compatible with the Windows Media Audio standard. Neither is compatible with the iPod.

"We have always felt that a company with music at its core rather than technology could do so much better for music fans," Branson said at the Virgin launch. "It is so user friendly that even I could use it."

Virgin Digital customers will get free music insurance which will provide a back-up service to replace downloaded tracks if their computer's hard drive crashes. It is offering around the same number of tracks as iTunes.

The HMV program features search and download capabilities, music transferring from a portable device onto the program, CD-burning, streaming radio stations, and HMV playlists. HMV plans to add video capabilities soon.

Knott said that while he has not seen the Virgin program, he's not surprised by the rival's interest in the emerging market.

"I think competition is very healthy," he said. "I would've expected Virgin to be in the game...and we'll compete with them in the same ways as we compete on the high street. I welcome the competition."

Knott said that he expected iPod also to upgrade its offering, but added that HMV plans to continue to sell Apple's iPod players in its shops and bank on its flexible pricing to win over customers.

Betti warned there will be a period of flux as each product is improved and upgraded, likening the situation to that of the Betamax-VHS video player wars in the early 1980s - VHS eventually won out, making Betamax obsolete.

"At least back then you could have a Betamax player and a VHS player at home. Having two portables to carry around would defeat the purpose," he said. "My advice to any consumer is make sure you don't get too attached to whatever you buy right now. You might find later on that what you have has been surpassed."

By JANE WARDELL
Associated Press

More in Tux Machines

Devices/Mobile

  • AsteroidOS is an Open Source OS for Smartwatches
    Florent Revest is a French computer science student who has been working on an open source operating system for smartwatches for the last two years. Yesterday, he officially launched version 1 of the alpha for AsteroidOS. The goal for the platform was to create something that gave smartwatch owners more control over their privacy, as well as the hardware they purchased. Florent feels that the current proprietary platforms do not guarantee this, and this was the basis for AsteroidOS. He wanted his open source smartwatch operating system to provide freedom with free software, more privacy than other wearable platforms offer, interoperability so it could communicate with other devices, modularity that enabled the user to tweak and change the OS as they see fit, the ability to port the software to as many devices as possible, and gathering a community who is passionate about the platform.
  • AsteroidOS Brings Open Source Functionality To Smartwatches
    Smartwatches may not have taken off like companies were hoping, but they have come quite far in terms of what they can offer and what sorts of features are available for the many different models of smartwatches that are out there. Even with the updated functionality of options like Samsung’s Gear S lineup and Android Wear platforms, though, smartwatches can still feel a little bit limiting, and part of this undoubtedly includes the reason that the operating systems aren’t as open as platforms like Android. That is now changing thanks to a platform called AsteroidOS which is an open source operating system for smartwatches.
  • Mini Apollo Lake module takes the heat — and the cold
    Congatec’s “Conga-MA5” is a Linux-ready COM Express Compact Type 10 Mini module with Apollo Lake SoCs, up to 128GB eMMC 5.1, and -40 to 85°C support. Congatec was one of the first embedded vendors to announce computer-on-modules based on Intel’s Atom E3900 and other Apollo Lake Pentium and Celeron SoCs. The offerings included a Qseven module, a SMARC 2.0 module, and a COM Express Compact Type 6 Conga-TCA5. The company has now followed up with a COM Express Compact Type 10 Mini Conga-MA5 module.
  • Top 20 Best Tizen Apps for November 2016, Tizen Smartphone
  • Smartphone game: Indian Football League game comes to the Tizen Store

Security News

Red Hat and Fedora

Technical
  • Red Hat Takes OpenShift Dedicated to Google Cloud Platform
    Red Hat has steadily taken significant steps in the cloud computing arena, expanding the focus of its OpenShift open source Platform-as-a-Service hybrid cloud computing offering, including launching a cloud-hosted commercial edition called OpenShift Online. Now, the company has announced the availability of OpenShift Dedicated on Google Cloud Platform. The new offering brings Red Hat’s container platform as a managed service offering to enterprise customers who want to build, launch, and manage applications on OpenShift Dedicated with Google Cloud Platform as their underlying cloud infrastructure. With the availability of OpenShift Dedicated on Google Cloud Platform, users can speed adoption of containers, Kubernetes, and cloud-native application patterns, according to Red Hat. Users also get access to Google’s global, container-optimized infrastructure and can more easily augment their applications with Google’s ecosystem of data analytics, machine learning, compute, network, and storage services.
  • Red Hat Launches OpenShift Dedicated on Google Cloud Platform
    Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world's leading provider of open source solutions, today announced the general availability of OpenShift Dedicated on Google Cloud Platform. The new offering brings Red Hat’s award-winning container platform as a managed service offering to enterprise customers who want to build, launch, and manage applications on OpenShift Dedicated with Google Cloud Platform as their underlying cloud infrastructure. With the availability of OpenShift Dedicated on Google Cloud Platform, users can speed adoption of containers, Kubernetes, and cloud-native application patterns, benefiting from Red Hat’s deep enterprise experience. Users also benefit from Google’s global, container-optimized infrastructure and can more easily augment their applications with Google’s ecosystem of data analytics, machine learning, compute, network, and storage services.
  • Image Gallery: Synnex Cloud Catalyst Conference Featuring Red Hat, XMedius, Plantronics
Financial Fedora/Community
  • Fedora 23 End of Life
    With the recent release of Fedora 25, Fedora 23 will officially enter End Of Life (EOL) status on December 20th, 2016. After December 20th, all packages in the Fedora 23 repositories will no longer receive security, bugfix, or enhancement updates, and no new packages will be added to the Fedora 23 collection. Upgrading to Fedora 24 or Fedora 25 before December 20th 2016 is highly recommended for all users still running Fedora 23.
  • What Is Wayland and What Does It Means for Linux Users
    Fedora 25 is now out. People are buzzing, as the team have decided to make Wayland the default graphical session going forward. For many Linux users Wayland is a new term that has popped up, but one that they do not understand. In this article we’ll briefly go over what Wayland is, what it does, and why developers are flocking to it in droves! What exactly is Wayland? Let’s find out!
  • Korora 25 is Ready
    The Korora Project has released version 25 (codename "Gurgle") which is now available for download. As usual, you can find a list of already known problems at the common F25 bugs page.
  • Fedora Design Interns Update
  • Holiday Break 2016.
    It’s sad I don’t get more time to post here these days. Being a manager is a pretty busy job, although I have no complaints! It’s enjoyable, and fortunately I have one of the best teams imaginable to work with, the Fedora Engineering team.

openSUSE Says Goodbye to AMD/ATI Catalyst (fglrx) Proprietary Graphics Drivers

openSUSE developer Bruno Friedmann, informed the community of the openSUSE Linux operating system about the fact that he's planning to remove the old ATI/AMD Catalyst (also known as fglrx) proprietary graphics drivers. Read more