iTunes concessions a double-edged sword

Apple’s announcements at Macworld may have lacked some of the flair and sizzle that CEO Steve Jobs usually brought to his keynote, but there was one announcement that, arguably, will wind up changing the playing field considerably. That announcement is the news of DRM-free sales from all of the major music labels through iTunes, and the addition of variable pricing. As rumored during the run up to Macworld, the world’s largest online music store will soon start selling songs for 69 cents, 99 cents or $1.29 each. The only question now, as Peter Kafka notes in a post at MediaMemo, is whether anyone will care or not — and whether it will help to fix any of the music industry’s systemic problems.

(read the rest of this post at GigaOm)

Newspapers: Evolution or catastrophe?

There have been — and will no doubt continue to be — plenty of blog posts, magazine articles and even (irony of ironies) the occasional newspaper story written about the death of the newspaper. It’s become almost a cottage industry, poring over the imminent failure of giants such as the New York Times, the Tribune Co. empire and even the Wall Street Journal. Some pieces (mostly by journalists) bemoan the changes the media industry is going through, like one I wrote about recently, in which a columnist wrote about how bloggers were killing the industry. Others (thankfully) are a little more optimistic about the evolution of online media.

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Apple still has a credibility problem

For some time now, there has been speculation that Steve Jobs was sicker than either he or Apple wanted to admit. At first, the company said that he simply had “a bug,” and then when the company announced that he would not be doing his usual keynote speech at Macworld — a speech so associated with him that it has come to be known as a “Stevenote” — the company denied it had anything to do with his health. Now, we know that this was untrue. Steve himself has confirmed that he is unwell as a result of a “hormone imbalance,” and that he is working on getting better (although as Wired notes, the letter is somewhat opaque when it comes to the specifics of this problem).

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JPG magazine: Great idea, bad business?

Like many others, I was saddened to hear about the closure of JPG, the “crowd-sourced” photography mag that started in 2004 and became a real Web 2.0 success story. I confess that I never actually saw a physical issue of the magazine, but I thought the concept had a lot of merit: a collection of the best photos submitted by a community of passionate photographers, voted on by the community and then printed and published. Printing and distributing a high-quality magazine costs a lot of money, however, and it seems JPG couldn’t quite find the business model that would make that part of the organization work.

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Twply: Instant business — just add Twitter

Everyone knows that the Web speeds up the metabolic rate of many businesses (not to mention lowering the barriers to entry for competitors, of course) but the story of Twply.com has to be a new record: going from hot startup to scapegoat to selling the business in less than 24 hours. It’s as though someone recorded a business developing and then played it back using time-lapse photography, like they do in nature documentaries, when they show plants growing, blooming and then dying in a matter of seconds.

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