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It sure looks like the newest generation of the Apple iPod Touch is the electronics item that has seen the most deals — both online and offline. More than ever I’ve noticed Amazon going head-to-head with Target. When Target has an electronics item on sale, Amazon appears to match the price nearly immediately.
I think these iPod Touch deals might be the last great buys of the year — certainly the last buys if you are planning to get the device for a Christmas gift.
Amazon is offering the 8gb iPod Touch for $205 with a free $25 Amazon gift card. This brings the net price down to $180 – this is $50 less than the Apple Store and if you include tax savings from buying on Amazon, the total savings is somewhere around $70. If you have a Prime shipping membership with Amazon, I think you should still be able to get the device home before Friday and certainly if you add in the extra $4 for overnight shipping.
This second deal isn’t for the deal newbie. If you do the legwork, you can get the 8gb iPod Touch for $162.50 + tax at Target. The deal requires some Target coupons and includes a gift card but if you are willing to do the legwork, this is the best deal overall. I still prefer the Amazon deal above because it’s easier and doesn’t require dealing with lines at the store and/or potential coupon issues. The deal instructions can be found on Your Best Source on the Net.
If you prefer BestBuy, they have the iPod Touch for $229 with a $50 Best Buy gift card. If you are one of their Reward Zone members, I believe you can also grab some free headphones. Remember with Best Buy you will pay sales tax on your purchase.
Side deal – if you need iTunes credits, BestBuy has $50 cards for $40 this week with free shipping. With all the iTunes gift card deals out there, please don’t pay full price buying direct on iTunes without a gift card.
I first heard of Lala.com in October of 2008. The company behind the website had existed for years before that, starting as a CD swapping service (one with questionable legality issues) and then turning itself into a music hub (that ended up failing).
October of 2008 though was different. That was the special month when the innovative company re-defined itself for the third time and launched a brand new product. Blogs hailed it as a revolution, and that’s precisely what it was.
At the time, the only way to buy music was iTunes/Amazon for $0.99, regular CDs, or some subscription model. Lala came in and started charging $0.10/song for unlimited online streaming, and that was brilliant. It launched with a lot of support and had a 175,000 song catalog populated by the four major record labels.
Since I almost always listen to my music on the computer, I thought I would give it a shot and I ultimately got addicted. Today, it’s the only music application I use and I absolutely love it. Lala’s future certainly looked promising, as they started work on an iPhone app and slowly started adding independent artists. It certainly seemed, at the time, that Lala (with $35.1 million in total funding) was quite possibly going to redefine how we purchased music.
That all changed on another date: December 4, 2010, when Apple Inc ultimately bought the startup (which apparently was in monetary turmoil) for a paltry $17m.
As an apparent Apple fanboy, I wasn’t sure how to feel about that purchase. On one hand, I was glad that Lala, given its extensive cash drain, got bought by a company with deep pockets. I quitely hoped that the sale simply meant that Lala wouldn’t be going anywhere. On the other hand, however, I was a bit scared. While I completely respect Apple, I was afraid they might be simply buying Lala to stop the competition. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time a large technology company bought a smaller company only to ultimately shut it down.
Ever since that point, I have slowed down my rate of purchases on Lala, in fear that one day I wouldn’t have access to the hundreds of songs I bought. Sadly, the apparently inevitable happened; earlier today, Lala announced that the service is shut down. They’re no longer accepting new users and old users like me have only until May 31st to use the website. After that, I will simply have my Lala money converted to iTunes store credit.
The web understandably up in arms in anger over this. The money I spent to get hundreds of songs on Lala will most likely only get me tens of songs on iTunes. I can no longer listen to my songs online, and any hope that I might be able to listen to Lala on my mobile device have been hopelessly shattered.
Is this the end of Lala? The real answer is maybe.
May 31, 2010 is a very interesting date, as it’s days/weeks before two major Apple events. The WWDC is occuring in early June and Steve will take the stage with Walt at All Things D. iPhone 4 will also most likely be released in early June.
How awesome would it be if Apple is simply killing Lala to replace it with a better more innovative iTunes in the cloud? Could the reason behind shutting down Lala.com simply be to replace it with iTunes.com? I sure hope so.
There is a rumor that has been circulating that Apple is going to be introducing a music subscription service like Rhapsody. I don’t know if it is true, but hope that it is. I love music subscription services, and am a current subscriber to Rhapsody, but I would switch to Apple in a minute so I could use my neat iPod with it.
But what triggered me wanting to write about this was not the rumor, but the reaction to the rumor by certain quarters. Specifically, whenever you read about subscription services, you always read vehement and angry comments from people that don’t like the idea of subscriptions. It is certainly fine to not want it for yourself. But what is odd to me is the anger that said people have at the idea that I might want something different.
It’s fascinating that this response always comes from the "free" music crowd, and yet I am confident, if they had a magic wand, they would make such services illegal, or so socially or politically unacceptable that they would not be offered.
This vehemence strikes me as strange because clearly I should have the right to buy something the way I want and a vendor should have the right to sell it to me in the way that s/he wants.
In short, it strikes me that the free music crowd is really more a religious movement than one based in logic and reason. It is very similar to the way that certain fundamentalist religious groups demonize people for different beliefs. Here the free music community demonizes subscription services because, by definition, subscriptions must use DRM, which is "evil". And the irrational zealous passion brought to bear is exactly analogous to the behavior of every out of control religious group in human history. Ok, they haven’t gotten to burning people at the stake, but you know what I mean.
The point is, even if you have the wacky view that all music or intellectual property should be free, the idea that you should consider business and interaction models, and technologies like DRM that don’t match your world view to be "evil", is, to me, bizarre. This is particularly true when the DRM *enables* a, compelling, at least for some, business model such as subscriptions.
As I see it, this movement would be more appropriately lead by a religious figure like Pat Robertson, or John Hagee, or Richard Stallman, or… oh wait, it is!
This article was authored by Hank Williams who is a New York-based entrepreneur who explores the tech marketplace from 10,000 feet at Why Does Everything Suck?.
Web celebrity Chris Pirillo announced earlier this week that on his birthday someone was able to hack into his iTunes account and purchase $450 in iTunes gift cards using his PayPal account. Chris spoke with Apple and apparently Apple has changed the way they verify birthdates to make sure this never happens again.
Chris then approached PayPal and filed a claim to get his $450 back. PayPal sent the results of their investigation yesterday which includes, "We have completed our investigation of your claim and have determined that this is not an instance of unauthorized account activity. At this time, your claim has been denied."
Chris replies, "What the HELL are they thinking? My password was obtained illegally. My money was taken without my consent… again illegally. How exactly can they determine that this was not an instance of unauthorized anything?!"
Unfortunately Chris does not note whether Apple has been able to provide a refund for the unauthorized charges. If the gift cards haven’t been used, can’t Apple just deactivate them and refund the money immediately? If they have been used, the shipping addresses for the purchased merchandise should be great info to provide to the local police.
This type of run-around is something we see often from PayPal. We’ve written several times about PayPal and their usual lack of communication.
In this case it does seem like Apple is the merchant and should work with Chris to make him whole. But it sure would be great to see PayPal work with it’s consumers (i.e. Chris) to get satisfaction for their users as they deal with the merchant.
Earlier this week I had the chance to chat with Tunesbag head of marketing Blundstone Osterberger. He describes the service as, "In short, tunesBag is a platform that lets you upload your music and stream it to your flash-enabled browser. You can also upload your playlists or create new ones, recommend tracks to your friends and comment on tracks you like." Tunesbag is currently in private beta.
The interface is very well crafted and you can open music in tabs inside of the app for quick movement. There are playlists as well for making mixtapes. There is a Tunesbag API for 3rd party services to plug in and create their custom apps and widgets. Files are uploaded either via web form or new desktop application. Friends can be pulled from Facebook to build your list.
I asked Osterberger about the issue of legality with this type of app. He replied, "The beauty of the Austrian law is that as a consumer, you are allowed and entitled to make legal copies of copyright-protected material and share it within a "reasonable" amount of people on a non-commercial basis."
Osterberger also shared who he believes are the closest competitors to Tunesbag. They include: anywhere.fm, Simfy, mp3tunes, Deezer, Pandora and last.fm. While last.fm is a competitor, they have also integrated last.fm’s scrobbling feature.
While no mention is made of business model – my guess is an affiliate setup with Amazon/iTunes. The only thing I’ve noticed in my testing is that while the interface is very slick, it’s a bit slow when trying to load a page that has more than 30 songs. They need some sort of loading meter as it seemed a few times like my IE7 crashed when it was just loading. Tunesbag was founded by Hansjoerg Posch in Austria with Osterberger working from London.
If you’d like an invite, we’ve scored 100 of them! Go to this special URL and register — better be quick!
Here’s an example artist page – using Ace of Base:
Fox Entertainment and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) have announced a new partnership around the American Idol series today. Individual songs are priced at 99 cents, full episodes at the standard $1.99 and there is a subscription to download the latest episodes as they air.
With Fox partnering with Hulu for streaming video online, will we see American Idol episodes on their offering as well?
Checking both iTunes and the American Idol Web site moments ago, neither have anything about the relationship nor links in either direction. I assume the iTunes piece will be live after the performances this week.
Hitwise is reporting that visits to the Microsoft Zune Web site jumped 299 percent on Christmas Day. Also noted is market share of visits to Zune.net showed an increase of 392 percent when comparing Christmas Day 2007 to the previous day. The Zune is a popular device on Amazon as well.
Yet even with this massive jump, the Zune still lags iTunes by 6x says Hitwise.
Pricing for the Zune starts at $139 for the 4gb and while that’s a bit less expensive than the iPod Nano, the iPod is still where it’s at. Especially with a $79 shuffle to meet almost any budget. One feature I like about the Zune is the FM Tuner, something that is missing on the iPod.
What do you think? Will the Zune be able to gain market share in 2008 over the iPod?
Update: Jimmy notes the following about the increase, "yeah it was everyone headed to the support pages"