24-bit Music Coming Soon – The music industry—concerned about what Apple will do with pricing 24-bit music, has held discussion with Amazon & Google trying to get them to support 24bit content. (Several hi-res download sites already offer 96K/24bit files.) Executives from Apple have told music industry execs they can charge double for high-quality 24bit music tracks or albums. The hope is to hit the digital stores in the next 18 months. A Linn spokesman said current MP3 music is being pushed into the crap sound bin, and the battle is against good sound—not analog vs. digital. He said the music industry sees there is a market for premium 24bit masters to be sold at a significant premium over the current 16bit content. Warner believes that Apple is running away with their business. The Linn rep said they should be working closer with Amazon and Google, and that the latter needs to get their act together and offer a better proposition such as 24bit music downloads. (Tests have suggested that going from 16bit to 24bit enhances overall sonic quality even more than going from 44.1K to 96K.)
Walmart Drops Music Downloads – Walmart will shut down its MP3 music downloads the 28th of this month. They cite weak consumer demand, price insensitivity, market contamination by Apple’s iTunes and Amazon. The site sells individual songs for 64 cents, 94 cents and $1.24, and album-length downloads at different price points. Walmart will continue to sell music via physical media online and in their stores, and will continue to provide their free Soundcheck concert streaming service, though without any downloads.
Walmart iPad Service – Walmart’s new Vudu video-on-demand streaming service for users of the Apple iPad bypasses sharing of streaming revenues with Apple. Users use Safari web browsers to purchase or rent movies and TV episodes in standard definition via Wi-Fi or 3G cellular. Going to www.vudu.com users run a special app which is not downloaded. This gets around Apple’s requirement that content providers share revenues from in-app purchases made thru apps downloaded from Apple’s online store. E-book seller Kobo is developing a similar strategy to allow e-book purchases from Apple iOS-based mobile devices. Navigation of the Vudu site has not been optimized for the iPhone; iPhone 4 users will be able to log into a Vudu account to stream content thru any iPhone browser via Wi-Fi or 3G. Vudu content purchased or rented thru an iPad can be viewed on Walmart.com/Vudu or any of over 300 Vudu-based consumer electronics devices—including Internet-capable HDTVs, Blu-ray players, HTiBs, set-top boxes and the PlayStation3.
Stone as a Data-Storage Medium – A Utah-based optical media storage company—Millenniata—is reviving the use of stone as a data-storage medium. They claims it allows for the permanent archiving of data on an optical disc. Their layering technique replaces the standard dye used with recordable CDs & DVDs with a man-made stone-like substance allowing a laser to literally etch data into what they call M-Discs. Millenniata claims a 1000-year lifespan for the discs. They say the dye—which they have engineered out—is the reason there is now eventual degradation. Standard DVDs are said to have a lifespan of about ten years, but many believe they last much longer. There is also a stronger glue bond between the plastic and the writable surface. The stone material is strong and helps to create a better bond. The optical drives required will first be made by Hitachi-LG Data and will be Blu-ray compatible, and the M-Discs will cost less then $3 each. The discs can be read on any DVD drive. A Blu-ray version of the M-Disc is under development. A spokesman said “With Cloud computing, the industry has mastered convenience. We have mastered read/write speeds, but what is missing from the market is permanence. That’s what we bring." (The news release surprisingly doesn’t differentiate between pressed optical discs—said to be the most long-lived—DVD-Rs, and DVD-RWs—the latter supposedly the most short-lived.)
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