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If Best Buy walks, Real's Rhapsody will hurt

Best Buy's acquisition of Napster is likely to mean RealNetwork's Rhapsody music service will wave goodbye to more than just one of its biggest partners.

Rhapsody of course powered Best Buy's digital music store. Two music insiders told me on Thursday, while I was reporting a story about whether Apple is wise to get into music subscriptions, that the Napster acquisition will almost certainly mean Best Buy will sever it's relationship with Rhapsody. This means that RealNetwork's CEO Rob Glaser would no longer have the muscle behind him to demand electronics companies make their players … Read more

Should Apple take a chance with music subscriptions?

It's hard to figure why anyone would do any prospecting in the stony terrain of digital-music subscriptions.

This week, Best Buy acquired the remade and beleaguered version of Napster for a song. The deal is likely bad news for RealNetwork's Rhapsody, the current engine behind Best Buy's digital music store and one of the pioneers in music subscriptions. (I wrote a sidebar about the troubles RealNetworks' Rhapsody may face if Best Buy walks.)

And don't forget, the Yahoo Unlimited subscription service was shuttered earlier this year.

The all-you-can-eat music services are the ones getting chewed up. … Read more

Apple unlikely to unveil iTunes subscription service Tuesday

Music industry insiders are buzzing about the press gathering Apple is hosting on Tuesday. The invitation shows a dancing man wearing an iPod and the slogan shouts, "Let's Rock."

Sure, this suggests that Apple is gearing up for a music announcement. The trouble is, nobody in music appears to know anything about it. My sources say that they don't expect Apple to announce anything to do with music content, and they are sure Apple won't be rolling out an iTunes music subscription service.

Such a service has been rumored for some time but Apple still … Read more

Top 5 iPod features you'll never see

All signs point to a new crop of iPods in September, and while I'm as interested in the rumors and blurry "leaked" photos as the next fanboy, I'm also preparing myself for disappointment. Deep down, I know there are iPod features that will never see the light of day. Sure, Apple always trots out a few iPod-related surprises like iTunes movie rentals and Cover Flow, but I've all but given up on the following innovations.

1. Subscription music

If the rumors are right, I'll be chewing my toes on this one, but I just … Read more

Rumored iTunes subscription would be a bargain

Repeat after me: it's just a rumor. Record company sources deny it. But if the anonymous tipster who e-mailed Mac Daily News is telling the truth, and Apple is indeed going to offer an all-you-can-download iTunes subscription service for for $129.99 a year (or $179.99 a year with Mobile Me), other subscription services will have a hard time surviving.

Let's review for a moment, shall we?

eMusic. Cost? The cheapest plan $143.88 per year, but only for 30 downloads per month. No unlimited plan available. Works with the iPod? Yes, because the downloads are non-DRM-protected … Read more

Apple finally ready for iTunes subscriptions?

Three Mac rumors sites have received anonymous tips that Apple is getting ready to introduce a subscription iTunes service in September.

We were already pretty sure that September would bring new iPods, but Apple might have something more ambitious up its sleeve. MacRumors, MacDailyNews, and The Unofficial Apple Weblog are all saying a tipster spilled the beans about a $129-a-year iTunes service that would piggyback on Apple's MobileMe service.

The reports are all eerily similar, suggesting that accurate or not, all the sites heard from the same source. Under the new service, Apple would offer unlimited access to half … Read more

Get a 13-month Xbox Live Gold subscription for $39.99 shipped

As a general rule, I despise paying monthly fees for anything. But a little over $3 per month for an Xbox Live Gold subscription? I can live with that. Newegg has 13-month Xbox Live subscription cards on sale for $39.99, with 3-7-day shipping included free.

In case you're new to the Xbox scene, a Live Gold subscription enables you to play games online against others. If you buy one of these cards directly from Microsoft (or, say, Best Buy), it'll cost you $49.99. You can use the 10 bucks you save to grab a new game … Read more

Apple offers 30 days free to MobileMe customers

Amid the shaky launch of the iPhone 3G, Apple's new MobileMe service--a juiced-up revamp of its .Mac offering--also took a blow. Apple has consequently opted to entitle eligible members to 30 days free as a we're-sorry gift.

.Mac accounts had been scheduled to "migrate" to MobileMe last Wednesday evening, but instead produced an outage in which neither service was available. New subscribers, meanwhile, had experienced issues signing up.

"The transition from .Mac to MobileMe was a lot rockier than we had hoped," a details page from Apple explained. The offer isn't for … Read more

Rhapsody's new MP3 store offers full song previews

The story originally stated that Verizon's over-the-air music service downloaded DRM-free MP3 files directly to the user's handset. It was later learned that Verizon's direct-to-phone music download is not in the MP3 format. The copy delivered to the user's computer, however, is in the MP3 format.

Read the updated story here.

Netflix-like model to work for magazine lovers?

A site that's slipped through the cracks of our coverage is Time Inc.'s upcoming service Maghound. It's best described as a cross between a beer-of-the-month club and Netflix.

For a relatively low monthly fee, you'll be able to pick out certain magazines you want to receive, and they'll show up on your doorstep for you to read and dispose of. If you like something, you can simply keep receiving it, while replacing less-liked titles with new ones at a much lower price than it would cost to go out and buy them at the newsstand. … Read more