Rdio offering direct carrier billing through Verizon

Rdio, the subscription-based social music service, today announced the addition of its Rdio app to the Verizon V Cast Apps storefront. Available only to customers with select Android devices, the app is one of the first in Verizon's app store to offer subscriptions via direct carrier billing.

While the service remains the same, the new option to lump your monthly subscription fee in with your Verizon Wireless bill is sure to entice at least a handful of new subscribers. "Our new relationship with Verizon Wireless makes the Rdio social music experience available to millions of mobile subscribers and … Read more offers smartphone-only subscription plan

Calling all baseball junkies! Major League Baseball just lowered its subscription prices, at the same time introducing an even less expensive plan for smartphone owners.

The new MLB.TV Mobile Phone Only subscription lets you watch unlimited live out-of-market (meaning non-home) games on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or Android phone for $49.99 per year. That breaks down to just over $4 monthly, which strikes me as pretty cheap for that much baseball.

It's also a nice alternative to the $89.99/year and $109.99/year standard and premium plans, respectively, (which, incidentally, also include smartphone streaming), especially … Read more

Time Inc., Apple reach deal on iPad subscriptions

Magazine publisher Time Inc. has reached a deal with Apple to make all of its iPad editions available for free to print subscribers, signaling a possible resolution to an impasse between Apple and publishers.

Beginning tomorrow subscribers to Sports Illustrated, Time, and Fortune magazines will be able to access iPad content via apps that will authenticate them as subscribers, a Time Inc. spokesman told CNET, confirming a story first reported by The Wall Street Journal. Previously, subscribers to most of the print editions had to pay an extra fee to access iPad content.

Representatives for Apple did not immediately respond … Read more

HBO Go, why do you spurn me so?

Dear HBO,

Hey. It's me, Scott. Remember me? I used to be an HBO subscriber, back when I had cable. That was about a year and a half ago. It's been a while. I miss you a little. Hope you're doing OK.

I mean, I hear you are. Everyone's talking about your latest shows. "Game of Thrones" sounds great. I used to follow some of the others. Now, I've sort of lost track. I've been doing great, by the way. I'm watching TV on Hulu Plus and Netflix, and getting by. … Read more

Is Netflix's model a blueprint for digital music?

Netflix's subscription business model is an online video powerhouse, but would it work for music?

There's a sharp difference of opinion in the music sector about that right now. Billboard magazine started the debate Tuesday when veteran writer Glenn Peoples suggested that the major record labels might do well to emulate some of Netflix's practices. Ethan Kaplan, a former digital exec at Warner Music Group, later that day wrote on his blog,, that he's highly skeptical.

The discussion was sparked by Google and Apple's recent efforts to launch cloud music services. Both would enable users to store their music libraries on the companies' servers and then stream songs to users' Internet-connected devices. Google has talked to the labels about charging a fee for the service, according to previous reports. CNET reported on Monday that Apple has told the labels it too will charge.

These companies and the major labels are betting on subscription. They're doing this though the services that have attempted to prove the model in the past have a spotty record. Rhapsody, Yahoo Music, and the recycled Napster all failed to draw large audiences. Most players in the sector dream of having 1 million paying subscribers. Compare that with Netflix, which saw 3 million movie fans sign up for its service in the year's first three months. The company's U.S. subscribers now number 22.8 million, the same amount as Comcast. Helping to fuel that growth was Netflix's offer of $8 a month for unlimited streaming access to movies and TV shows.

"With Netflix consumers have proven they will rent content--even re-run(s)--and stream it from the cloud," Peoples wrote in Billboard. "They will pay for digital content they could get for free through illegal means. They will pay if the service allows streaming through multiple devices."

Peoples wrote that Netflix's low-cost, easy-to-use Web site, and nearly ubiquitous presence on Internet-enabled devices is a worthy blueprint for the music industry. But Kaplan said that Peoples' premise is flawed at its core. … Read more

Expect Apple to charge for music cloud

Don't expect Apple's cloud-music service to come free of charge, at least not forever.

Music industry insiders told me that Apple has indicated it could offer the service free of charge initially but that company will eventually require a fee. Google is also expected to charge for a similar service.

Billboard writer Ed Christman reported last September that Google was considering a plan to charge $25 a year for a subscription for its cloud service. Last month, the blog Wayne's World reported that Apple would charge $20 annually, but nobody I spoke with seems to know for sure what Apple may ask. An Apple spokesman did not respond to an interview request.

Both Apple and Google began discussing plans more than a year ago with the largest four recording companies about enabling users to upload their songs to the companies' servers. Music could then be streamed to users' songs via Internet-connected devices. This kind of third-party computing is known as the cloud.

It's going to be interesting to see how online music stores make their cloud-music offerings sweet enough to get consumers to pay--especially the early adopters (and if you're reading CNET that means you). Subscription services have yet to attract any significant market share in digital music. It's generally accepted that consumers prefer to own their tunes rather than renting them and there are some who suspect that the cloud is a way for the Web stores and the labels to charge consumers to access songs they already own. … Read more

Adobe Creative Suite 5: Why buy when you can rent?

While tablet fans slaver over iPad apps and creatives ideate over the new features in Creative Suite, I think investor relations folk will be the ones scrutinizing Adobe's adoption of a subscription plan for its Creative Suite products and what it might mean for Adobe's still-strong bottom line. (Never fear, though. You can still buy everything outright.)

Related links • Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 • Photoshop Touch SDK drives three Adobe iPad apps • Adobe wakes to mobile world, Web standards

I'll preface this discussion by saying I'm not a big fan of software rental, or really rental … Read more

Full digital access to to cost $455

We'll soon see how much readers are willing to pay to access The New York Times online.

The country's leading general interest newspaper has finally unveiled its digital subscription plan, and the first thing that jumps out is that it's not cheap.

The Times said today that starting on March 28, U.S. readers who want access to on every device, including smartphones and tablets, must pay $35 every four weeks, or $455 a year. The debut of the subscription offering launched in Canada today.

"Our decision to begin charging for digital access will … Read more

Did Google pull app for in-app purchase violation?

It seems that in-app purchase problems are starting to affect Google too. Reports surfaced Thursday that the company removed an app over a violation of "payment rules."

Earlier this week, Google notified one of its developers that the developers' free app, Visual VoiceMail, was being pulled from the Android Market. The reason given was that the app violated a section of Google's developer agreement that covers pricing and payments, according to a report on GigaOM.

While Google hasn't been clear about the exact violation, Jonathan Hollander of PhoneFusion, makers of Visual VoiceMail, believes the problem is … Read more

Report: Apple's subscription plan draws antitrust scrutiny

U.S. antitrust investigators are examining the terms Apple placed this week on publishers wishing to sell digital subscriptions through the App Store, according to a Wall Street Journal report that cited people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission are interested in whether Apple is violating antitrust laws by routing customers through Apple's App Store and taking a 30 percent cut of each subscription, sources told the newspaper. Regulators' interest in the subscription terms is reportedly preliminary and might not lead to a formal investigation.

Representatives for Apple, the Justice Department, and the Federal … Read more