Apple May be Ready to Compete with Pandora

apple streaming musicAccording to reports from the New York Times, Apple is getting ready to dive into the internet radio pool. Having supposedly already sealed a deal with Warner Music, Apple is in rights negotiations with other music providers to launch a music streaming service with content variety that could rival its own iTunes library.

Rumors say Apple wants to release the service (which, like market leader Pandora, would be free) as a mobile app in its upcoming iOS7 operating system. The service would support itself from in-app ads, which seems to be standard practice for “internet radio” services.

If you use Pandora, would you jump ship for an Apple-branded service?

New Internet Trends Report

As an Internet service provider, we’re passionate about the Internet and work hard to keep up with what’s new and stay informed about trends that are affecting the direction of the Internet. And we like to keep our Internet access customers informed, as well. So yesterday was a big day.

internet-trends-report-2013On day two of the AllThingsD D11 conference, Mary Meeker, partner at the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, presented her latest annual report on Internet trends.

You can find the full Internet trends presentation (117 slides) on the KPCB website or watch the full video of the D11 presentation (about 24 minutes). But we’ll save you some time by giving you the highlights.

  • The Internet is still growing – fast. EarthLink has been in the Internet access business almost 20 years, so to us it often seems such a mature, established industry. But it is still growing 8%, driven by emerging markets such as China, India, Indonesia, Iran and the Philippines (see slide 4).
  • The U.S. still dominates the Internet. Of the top 10 global Internet properties (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, etc.), eight were “Made in the USA.” Interestingly, while 80% of the sites are U.S.-owned, traffic to them is 81% international users. On the mobile side, 88% of smartphone operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) are U.S.-made (see slides 6 & 7).
  • Sharing is skyrocketing. The amount of content created and shared has grown by 9x in five years and shows no sign of slowing down (see slides 11- 23).
  • Facebook still rules…but for how long? The top social media sites were Facebook (#1 by a significant amount), YouTube, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn (see slide 27). Facebook’s users, however, were reported to have declined from 2011 to 2012.
  • U.S. smartphone users are pretty darn happy. Users report feeling “connected,” “excited,” “curious/interested,” and “productive” about social and communication activities on their smartphones (see slide 31).
  • Mobile Internet traffic is growing and growing and… In some countries (notably China), mobile Internet access has surpassed desktop/PC access. Mobile is growing for both commerce and social sharing sites (see slides 32 – 37).
  • Tablets have grown even faster than smartphones. Global shipments of tablets actually surpassed desktop PCs and notebook/laptop computers in Q4 of 2012 (see slides 44 – 50).
  • Wearable tech devices with sensors are next in line. Expect hands-free, wearable devices such as wristwatches, bracelets, glasses and more (see slides 52 – 55).
  • China: the case study. Sure, they’re growing because they’re the biggest country. But they are also innovating in some interesting ways (see slides 67 – 73).
  • Immigration fuels U.S. tech … but not enough. Sixty percent of the top 25 tech companies in the U.S. were founded by 1st or 2nd generation Americans. But immigration policy means there’s a shortage of high-skilled technology workers needed to grow the industry (see slides 84 – 90).

Let us know what Internet trend you are most excited about, or if you see other trends.

Google Announcing New Products at I/O Conference

Google 2013 developer conference - new google productsThe biggest Internet news of the week is coming from Google, which just yesterday kicked off its 6th annual Google I/O developer conference.

The conference, which over 6,000 developers are attending at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, is still going on right now and will conclude tomorrow. But there has been quite a lot of buzz about what Google has already announced.

Here’s a rundown of the biggest announcements from the Google I/O developer conference so far:

  • Google Play Music All Access: This is a new, unlimited streaming music/Internet radio subscription service. It offers access to millions of tracks, playlists and suggestions based on music you already own and like, and let you customize a streaming radio station based on specific songs or artists (a la Pandora). You can stream music on Web or Android phones and tablets. The service will cost $9.99 a month, but if you sign up for a free 30-day trial before June 30th, you’ll pay only $7.99 a month. CNET has a review of the new All Access service. Or visit Google Play Music.
  • Google Play social gaming: Google is launching a new platform that will allow game developers to build in more social gaming aspects as well as take advantage of Google’s cloud storage capabilities, so you could play and pause a game on Android devices, iOS decices, PCs or Macs. See the Wall Street Journal for a review.
  • Google Maps: The popular map and direction service has been totally rebuilt. The next generation of Google Maps offers a more full-screen, less cluttered view with a search box built into the map itself. You’ll get a lot more options with your map searches: more local points of interest, more business information, street view and satellite imagery options, photo tours, and more. You’ll likewise get more options for directions: car, public transportation, walking, biking, flying. The new maps is available for the Web, on Android devices, or iPhone. Google has a preview of the new Maps and links to downloads here.
  • Google Search: Google previewed its work on conversational search. When it launches, you’ll be able to say “OK, Google, will it be raining this weekend in Central Park?” and get your answer spoken back to you. You can then ask follow-up questions. Google also announced improvements to its Knowledge Graph, to answer factual questions more precisely and fully. And Google Now updates offer reminders based on time and your current location. See Google’s Inside Search blog for more details.
  • Google Hangouts: Google launched a new Hangouts chat, video chat and unified messaging app that works across platforms. You can use it to text, send photos, or have a group video conference; SMS integration is reportedly coming soon (but not for iOS). The new Hangouts replaces Google Talk and G+ Messenger. It’s now available on Android, iOS, Chrome and Gmail. Read a review of Hangouts on Techcrunch.
  • Google+: The social network site has been redesigned to work better across platforms (Web and mobile devices). Google+ Photos also features a number of important updates: Auto Backup, Auto Highlight, Auto Enhance, and the more-awesomely named Auto Awesome. Google has an overview of G+ changes here.

That’s not all. Watch for more updates on Google’s Official Blog.

You can also keep up-to-the-minute on Google announcements and even watch live streaming video of the ongoing developers conference here.