Microsoft to Reorganize Entertainment and Devices

Confirming reports circulating for several days, Microsoft announced a substantial plan to reorganize its Entertainment and Devices division.    Timed to coincide with the fall departure of retiring group head Robbie Back, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer will take over the division starting July 1.

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Regulators Taking a Look at Apple’s Practices?

Apple is known to be a tough negotiator.  How tough, and whether some behaviors cross the line of appropriateness is a question regulators are apparently looking into.

New reports citing “people familiar” suggest the government anti-trust regulators are inquiring about whether Apple’s dealings with music labels have been inappropriate.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported one of the questions on investigators minds is whether Apple tried to keep the record labels from giving Amazon’s rival music download store exclusive access to some new releases.

Antitrust staff from the DOJ has reportedly contacted several music labels as well as some internet music startups.

The interviews are considered “preliminary” and at this time there is no formal investigation.   Still, regulators are clearing keeping a close watch on Apple; an apparent reaction to the dominance the company has established in many of its markets.

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Apple to Shut (reinvent?) Lala

Lala Shut by AppleIn December, gas tanks of Apple watchers got a surprise dose of high octane when reports surfaced the company was buying online music service Lala. Some immediately speculated that Apple had plans to create a "cloud" friendly iTunes. Others chimed in on the possibility of Apple using Lala’s intellectual property and license relationships to offer an iTunes music subscription package.

Now, just a few months removed, rumor engines are spinning again on news Apple will shut down the public face of Lala’s services a week before the start of Apple’s World Wide Development Conference.

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iTunes Sells 25 Percent of US Music

music measureHow much weight does the iTunes music store have to throw around?  A ton according to new data released from market tracking firm NPD.

Measuring unit sale in the first half of 2009, NPD MusicWatch reports Apple’s music store now accounts for a quarter of U.S. music sales. That’s not a quarter of digital sales, it’s 25 percent of everything.

During the first half of 2009, while CD sales continued to erode, digital music sales grew to 35% of the market, up from 20 percent in 2007 and 30 percent in 2008.  According to Russ Crupnick , NPD’s vice president of entertainment industry analysis, “with digital music sales growing at 15 to 20 percent, and CDs falling by an equal proportion, digital music sales will nearly equal CD sales by the end of 2010."

iTunes’ lead in the digital market is massive. Apple owned 69 percent of the digital music market in the first half of 2009.  Amazon, in a very distant second, held 8 percent.

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Staffing Report: Palm Promotes Rubinstein to CEO, founders depart

changing seatsThere was much speculation when Jon Rubinstein joined Palm in 2007 that he’d eventually run the company if it could get back on track.  He was lured out of retirement for the challenge, had the support of the company’s investors who’d recruited him, and was loaded with fresh ideas.  Many thought it was a question of when not if.  Now they have their answer.  Wednesday, Palm announced the former Apple exec’s promotion to chairman and CEO. 

Earlier in his career, while at Apple, where he oversaw the iPod’s development, Rubinstein was part of a team of many talented executives.  At Palm, he’ll talk the helm of the entire ship.

Known as an effective manager, a team builder and an engineering whiz, Rubinstein spearheaded the rapid deployment of the iMac and the development of the iPod division as Apple’s head of hardware engineering.  Since joining Palm as executive chairman, he’s been the head Click to Read More

Pearl Jam to Get Video Game

pearl jam rock band. metueLast week, Activision Blizzard confirmed several rumors about its planned slate of music-based video games including verification that the next single-band installation of Guitar Hero would revolve around the 80’s superstar rockers, Van Halen. (The band had more Billboard Hot 100 hits than any other rock band in the decade).  Not to be outdone, today rival MTV Games, maker of Rock Band, countered back with news that they’re working on a game built around a band that helped to define the 90’s music scene: Pearl Jam.

Details about the game are scarce.  At this point its even a guess whether the Pearl Jam title will be a full fledged game, or simply a “track pack expansion” for the Rock Band series. All that’s been revealed is the game is scheduled for sometime in 2010.   That, and that fans will have some input on the game’s development. Through a promotion with Rhapsody, the band is asking fans to vote on songs for inclusion at their website.  More details on Rock Band: Pearl Jam are expected to come out at E3, the gaming industry’s big trade show, next month.

Whatever the game turns out to be, one thing to watch: how the marketplace responds to the new titles.  Click to Read More

CBS to Combine Radio Websites and in New Unit

last-fm-cbs.jpgCBS has been working to make a more integrated part of its digital porfolio. In late March, announced its streaming music service would no longer be free in some international markets.  Tuesday,CBS said it will bring the more than 100 websites in the CBS Radio portfolio and together into a single new unit to be called the CBS Interactive Music Group.

David Goodman who joined CBS Radio in 2002 will lead the new combined unit.  Goodman became President of Marketing in 2005 and President, Digital Media and Integrated Marketing in 2007.  Before CBS, he spent six years at the Warner Music Group.   Goodman will report to Neil Ashe, the president of CBS Interactive.

The combined group will reach more than 40m people, the company said. 

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