Reuters blog archive
Who says central banking is boring? The European Central Bank, now grappling with safeguarding the survival of the euro zone, has made it to iTunes, with its monetary policy app "€conomia". It challenges iPhone and iPad users with -- you guessed it -- keeping inflation at just under 2 percent. The new app is the on-the-go version of "The Monetary Policy Game" that has been available on its website for some time.
What is most striking is not the funky music soundtrack you would expect to hear playing quietly in the background while the Governing Council meets to set policy in Frankfurt. What really sticks out is the lack of monetary policy tools at the user's disposal.
You can cut, raise or hold the benchmark interest rate, read up on the press coverage, and watch the economy thrive, stagnate, or flounder.
But you can't inject billions of euros into the financial system through refinancing operations of various maturities. You can't provide emergency lending to financial institutions with no access to capital markets, you can’t tell everyone that the current interest rate is appropriate, you can't purchase vast amounts of Italian bonds, and as of now, you can't be the lender of last resort.
1000 apps might not seem like a lot compared to the 300,000 offered for Apple's iPhone, but there's enough on offer at Apple's new Mac App Store to cover most software bases, some of it deeply discounted.
The Mac App Store interface is easy to navigate, much like the iPhone and iPad sections on iTunes, with app icons arranged in rows.
from Tales from the Trail:
Not a great day for US-Russia relations. The United States won the extradition of Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout from Thailand against Moscow’s vehement objections. The Russian government said the extradition of the man known as the “Merchant of Death” was not only illegal but also the result of “unprecedented political pressure from the United States.” Earlier this month we had news that a key Russian spymaster and double agent had defected to the United States after unmasking the spy ring here. And then to top it all off, Republicans signaled they would block ratification of the START Treaty this year. It looks like more of a meltdown than a reset in US-Russia relations.
Not that START is dead yet, with Joe Biden leading the charge today to twist arms in the Senate and Hillary Clinton due on the Hill tomorrow. But if anyone was hoping President Barack Obama would rescue the second half of his presidency by focusing on foreign policy, it has hardly been an auspicious couple of weeks, after the debacle of the G20 meeting, the failure to strike a trade deal with South Korea and now this. Still, here’s hoping the president can strike peace in the Middle East or negotiate a successful exit from Afghanistan.
Music industry types must have had been reaching for their tranquilizers this afternoon, following a report that Apple is in early stage talks to buy Spotify. The report spread quickly, as these things do, and some thought it made a lot of sense. So Apple, maker of the world's most popular music device, the iPod, which already owns the No.1 music download retailer iTunes, would be buying Spotify --the much-loved and critically acclaimed music streaming service, just as it's finalizing deals to launch in the U.S.? This would be too much to handle for many music executives, who think Apple already holds way too much power.
They'll probably be relieved to know that after an initial flurry of panicky phone calls we got a helpful call from one person close to Spotify, who shot down rumors of a potential sale to Apple or anyone else as "completely untrue".
Be careful what you wish for because you might just get another major label's catalog.
eMusic, the independent music lovers' independent digital music site, is well, no longer that independent. As of November, it will now have music from the world's number one music company Universal Music, adding more than 250,000 tracks to eMusic's catalog bringing it to 10 million.
from Shop Talk:
Mattel's Fisher-Price, home to many infant and preschool toy brands, is going digital.
The maker of Little People playsets and Power Wheels toy cars is launching iPhone applications related to its "The Chatter Telephone," "See ‘n Say" and "Little People Farm" brands.
Amie Street, the digital music site which made its name with a dynamic pricing model for songs, has signed up Sony Music as its first major music label. It means songs from acts like Beyonce (pictured), Outkast, Kings of Leon and The Ting Tings are now available on the site as well as plenty of catalog albums.
But the songs will not be dynamically priced like the rest of the music on Amie Street which fluctuates based on demand. Sony's songs will cost 69 cents, 99 cents and $1.29, much like they are on sites like iTunes and Amazon.
It should probably come as no surprise, but Apple has again cut off iTunes syncing privileges for Palm's Pre, the latest dig in their tit-for-tat over Palm's smartphone. Apple's newest version of iTunes, launched yesterday, disables the sync.
In July, Palm updated its webOS software to allow Pre users to sync the handset with iTunes, Apple's ubiquitous media management software, where millions of people store their music and videos--after Apple had disabled such functionality in an earlier iTunes update.
from The Great Debate UK:
- Will Findlater is deputy editor of Stuff magazine. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Apple’s "It’s Only Rock and Roll" launch held a few surprises. Most were expecting major updates to the whole line of iPods, but it was only really the iPod Nano that got a thorough going-over.
Britain's Sky News caused a bit of a stir on the blogosphere on Tuesday after it cited John Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, as saying the Beatles back catalog was finally going for sale on iTunes: seemingly confirming a longstanding rumor that had gained momentum ahead of a widely watched Sept 9 Apple music-entertainment event.
But the report by the 24-hour news service, spotted by 9to5Mac and TechCrunch, among others, was stricken off the Sky News Web site hours later and discredited by a numner of other media outlets including Cnet. In response to Reuters' queries, EMI, which owns the master recordings, sent us this from Ernesto Schmitt, EMI's global catalog president: