MediaFile

Facebook’s new class of apps expand the social vocabulary

Time was when “liking” something on Facebook was the standard way to recommend something on the social network.

Now Facebook users will have a whole new vocabulary at their disposal so they can tell friends they “want” tickets to an upcoming rock concert, they are “cooking”  a certain dish or that they “ran” five miles in the park after work.

On Wednesday evening, Facebook announced the availability of more than 60 third-party appsthat can be integrated directly into Facebook, including apps from Ticketmaster, Airbnb, Foodspotting and Pinterest. Facebook also said that any software developer can now create their own such specialized apps for Facebook integration and submit the app to Facebook for approval.

Once you begin using one of these apps, your interactions within the app – say clicking on a dish you see in Foodspotting to note that you have “tried” it – are broadcast to the Facebook “ticker” for all your friends to see.  The apps are also integrated into each user’s Timeline – the revamped version of a user’s personal profile page that Facebook has been gradually rolling out to its more than 800 million users.  Now when you visit a friend’s Timeline, for instance, you might see a special section showcasing the top movies they’ve indicated that they want to see on the Rotten Tomatoes app, or the latest hotel reviews they’ve written with the TripAdvisor app.

The new apps are part of the so-called open graph feature that Facebook rolled out at its developer conference in September. The initial open graph rollout focused on integrating media apps from partners such as Spotify and Yahoo into Facebook, allowing users to notify friends of the music they were listening to, the news articles they were reading and the videos they were watching.

If Spotify fails, blame the Internet’s grim economics

If anyone has a serious beef with the music labels, it’s Michael Robertson. Robertson took MP3.com public in 1999, only to later to pay tens of millions of dollars to labels that sued the startup, claiming storing songs on servers infringed their copyrights. Fast forward to today: A new wave of music startups like Spotify, MOG and Rdio stream songs from servers with the labels’ blessings. It might all be above board now, but the labels are still bleeding the digital-music services dry.

That was Robertson’s claim in an detailed and elegant jeremiad against the big labels. He claims that Spotify and its peers will never make a profit because of secret, onerous terms that act as a financial straightjacket for the startups, snoop on their users’ data and border on collision. Others were quick to suggest that it’s the music-streaming services that are being stingy. After all, by some calculations, an artist could have a song streamed 4 million times on Spotify and make just $1,200

So who is right? Both. And that’s bad for everyone. Music labels, being greedy music labels, want a profit. Desperate for a piece of a music-streaming market that isn’t going away, they are asking for everything they can in the name of rewarding artists (and investors). But the digital music services like Spotify need a low subscription fee – usually $10 to $15 a month for an all-you-can-eat plan – to build a critical mass of subscribers.

Spotify now a New York company…oh, and an app platform too

Photo: Daniel Ek, Spotify CEO previews app platform (courtesy: Spotify)

Spotify, the hype-tastic digital music service that started in Stockholm, then moved to London is now a New York headquartered company founder Daniel Ek tells us at the glamorous launch of the new Spotify App platform at the Stephen Weiss Studios in the trendy West Village area of the city.

“I love London, it’s a great city but so much of our business is here now,” said Ek. Spotify has quietly built up a team of some 100 staffers at its Chelsea offices, a couple of floors below Google’s New York office, and will probably be seeking new space in the future at their current rate of growth.

Ek debuted as a solo showman on Wednesday showing off Spotify’s new platform, which allows third parties to develop applications to work within the Spotify desktop software. For example applications  including Rolling Stone, Last.fm and Tune Wiki can all be added  to your Spotify platform and integrate with the music you choose to listen to. If successful, Spotify will explore moving the service to the mobile platform says Ek. Opening its platform to developers is a similar move to what Facebook did (on a much larger user scale) a couple of years ago to impressive results.  Indeed Spotify is one of Facebook’s music apps.

Tech wrap: Google profit expectations eat dust

Google’s third-quarter results trounced Wall Street expectations as good cost controls helped boost the Internet search leader’s profit by about 26 percent. The world’s No. 1 Internet search engine said its net income in the three months ended September 30 totaled $2.73 billion, up from $2.17 billion in the year-ago period.

Analysts applauded Google’s results. “Christmas came early for Google shareholders. It’s all about the core business. You drive that extra revenue and expense becomes secondary. It was a great beat on the bottom line. It’s not necessarily because they are controlling expenses. It’s because they are driving more revenue”, said Colin Gillis of BGC Partners.

RIM’s co-CEOs apologized to millions of BlackBerry customers for a four-day outage that tarnished it’s image and set back the drive to catch up with Apple and other smartphone rivals. The service disruption could cost RIM millions of dollars in compensation to customers who lost service.  The company did not say for certain whether it would compensate customers. Public relations specialists said its response to the crisis has been slow and poorly communicated.

What’s cooler than a Facebook conference? A Sean Parker after-party.

When somebody who was played by Justin Timberlake in a Hollywood movie decides to throw a party, the expectations are pretty high.

And Sean Parker, the man behind free music-sharing service Napster and an early Facebook advisor, clearly likes to give people what they want.

Parker, who is an investor in the music service Spotify, pulled out all the stops in a post-Facebook developers conference party on Thursday that was a cross between a backstage concert pass and Trimalchio’s feast.

Spotify gets warm US welcome with a lawsuit

European digital music service Spotify has re-ignited the U.S. music business since it opened up shop on these shores two weeks ago. Hype and Twitter-based excitement have gone into over-drive as users have sought out valuable Spotify invites for the partly free on-demand music service.

It’s not been an easy ride getting here for Spotify and founder Daniel Ek (pictured, right). For one thing, there had been two years of testy, and presumably expensive, music licensing negotiations with the major record labels. Still, they got here, only to now find that one of the other common distractions of US technology business is threatening to spoil the party: A patent lawsuit.

Spotify was sued by PacketVideo Corp for patent infringement for of its United States Patent No. 5,636,276 entitled “Device for the Distribution of Music in Digital Form”. The suit was filed at the US  District Court, Southern District of California on Wednesday (Case No: ’11CV1659 IEG)

Tech wrap: Apple plugs mobile software hole

Users of Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch mobile devices might want to take a minute to do a software update this weekend. Apple rolled out a security fix for its iOS mobile operating software on Friday that plugs a hole that could allow hackers to gain remote access to those devices. The security flaw was discovered last week after a website released code that Apple customers can use to modify the software through a process known as “jail breaking”.

Google said more than 10 million people have now signed up to the company’s new social networking service, Google+. The Internet giant’s CEO Larry Page announced the new user numbers during the company’s second-quarter earnings call on Thursday, remarking that it has been “very well received, because in real life we share different things with different people.” That’s a reference to one of the service’s many features, Circles, which lets users sort friends into different groups (‘circles’)  and share information based on interests or affiliation. The afterglow following Google’s blockbuster results on Thursday extended into Friday, with the company’s shares surging as much as 13.5 percent at one point.

The much-hyped music streaming service Spotify has finally landed on U.S. shores. The UK-based digital music company rolled out its cloud-based service to a limited group in the United States on Thursday. CNN reports that for now the company is only accepting new members to its free service who receive invites from the company, a sponsor or a current user. Spotify has been a huge success with music lovers in Europe for years, but service problems and extended negotiations with record labels have delayed its U.S. launch.  Fortune’s JP Mangalindan explains why he thinks Spotify deserves all the hype.

Tech wrap: Print publisher bets the ranch on apps

Nicholas Callaway, (R) founder of Callaway Digital Arts poses with members of his staff as they hold Apple Ipads displaying Ipad apps that they helped created and publish at the company's headquarters in lower Manhattan during an interview with Reuters in New York, in this picture taken March 7, 2011.Successful childrens’ books publisher Nicholas Callaway believes paper is dead and that digital has come of age, writes Mark Egan. But Callaway isn’t worried that big publishing houses will eat his lunch. “They don’t understand the new medium, they don’t have the rights, they don’t know how to create the product and they don’t know how to get it out to the world,” Callaway told Egan. January e-book sales more than doubled from the same month a year earlier, rising 116 percent to $69.9 million, according to the Association of American Publishers. That topped sales of hardcover books, which fell 11 percent from January 2010 to $49.1 million.

Google will probably have to make some changes to how it does business as a result of antitrust scrutiny, in return for the ability to protect what it regards as its necessary freedom to innovate, writes Steve Lohr of The New York Times.

With all of the buzz around Google and privacy, is it any surprise that the company’s efforts to develop a mobile app that will identify people’s faces in order to access their personal information have stalled?  Experts say the novelty of a face recognition app may help attract early adopters. But policies would need to be uncomplicated and straightforward to keep users from abandoning it over privacy concerns, writes CNN’s Mark Milian.

Today In Music: Spotify U.S. not imminent, “not even in Q1″

daniel_ek_closeupWe hate to hit replay on this one but following New York Post’s story today that European streaming music service Spotify is close to a deal with Sony Music and thereby close to launch we decided to call a few people to confirm.

It appears there’s still some distance between Spotify and the big major labels my sources tell me.

“It’s not happening anytime soon, they may be close to getting deals done, but the labels are still not confident about their business model,” one person said.

Today In Music: Labels still looking forward to Google Music, Spotify less so

So 2010 was the year that wasn’t as far as a major revolutionary digital music launches were concerned. Label executives have been hoping fervently for some real competition to take on Apple’s iTunes. Not that they don’t want iTunes to do very well but having one company control 70 percent of recorded music sales in your biggest markets like the US and UK is perhaps not best for industry growth.

Andy Rubin GoogleThis has meant that whenever it looks like there could be real competition — remember the hopes for Microsoft’s Zune? There’s always been an overreaction from the labels in the hype department. Remember how Amazon would be a true digital rival? Today it’s market share hovers around the 15 percent mark.

So when Google started talking to labels about a music servicethe labels got very excited. So far we know Google has proposed a download store and a digital music locker which will allow you to access music you own wherever you are. They had hoped to have it up and running by Christmas but dealing with labels takes time. In the meantime Google has been getting its house in order for become more a content middle-man media company by promising to work harder on issues like copyright.This is likely because it would like to have more mainstream content for its Android wireless phones and tablets if it is to be a more complete competitor to Apple’s iTunes/iPhone/iPad/iOS ecosystem.  We’re hearing the labels are still very confident that Google will get something up and running sooner rather than later despite the delays. Google is also still looking for people to run its music service, though negotiations have been led by Android founder and Google VP of engineering Andy Rubin (pictured, above).