DIGITAL MUSIC ON MARCH
Some of the world's largest and most savvy marketers of consumer products are tuning up promotions with plans to give away millions of digital music files from major online services.
Apple Computer has a deal with Pepsi to give away 100 million downloads from its ITunes Music Store. Miller Brewing will offer thousands of Napster-branded digital music players and file downloads this summer as part of a marketing deal between the brewer and Roxio, Billboard magazine reported. Airlines and credit-card companies are also reported working on promotions with music files.
As many as a hundred new music stores could be online by the end of 2004, according to Loudeye, a technology company partnered with Microsoft to offer a “music store in a box” product. Especially aggressive will be traditional computer and software companies. Stores will be launched by Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Sony and Dell.
Sprint now has a handset that can record not just still pictures but video, too.
The PCS Vision Video Phone VM4500 from Sanyo ($380, or $230 with a two-year contract with Sprint), packs a tiny camcorder. Flip the phone open, select “camcorder” and shoot 15-second “normal quality” videos — with audio.
The video you see on the 2.1-inch 65,000-color liquid crystal display is 96 by 128 pixels. The VM4500's internal memory can store up to 33 video clips and 31 VGA, or 640-by-480-pixel, pictures. What looks like an ordinary flash on the front of the phone doubles as a floodlight.
Tech Web site Think Secret suggests that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will focus on the release of new low-end, 'mini iPods' during his Macworld Expo keynote address on Tuesday in San Francisco. Think Secret says that sources have confirmed Apple will announce the new pocket-size iPods in a number of capacities and in various colors, including stripes. Capacities will be 2 and 4GB.
NAME YOUR PRICE
The “name your own price” travel company is adding some transparency to its sales process. Searching for a flight on Priceline.com these days gives you both the option to bid as well as buy a ticket at a competitive price. The company added the service in recent weeks, and plans to formally announce it next month.
The flight on which you bid has no details, but the alternatives that have prices name the airlines, and include flight numbers and travel times.
The move is a clear sign that with so many bargain flights now available online, fewer travelers are willing to accept Priceline's bid-in-the-dark business model, according to the Washington Post.
HO$, HO$, HO$
Online shoppers spent almost $1 billion last week, according to ComScore Networks, a market research firm. “With the exception of Christmas Day, when many turn their attention to gift giving, our data reported sales over $100 million each day of the week,” said Dan Hess, senior vice president. The week's total was $950 million. He said gift certificates and flowers were hot items, due to the ability to send them online or order same-day delivery. For the entire holiday season Hess said online sales, exclusive of travel and auctions, totaled $11.7 billion, a rise of 29 percent from last year.
Sony has postponed the Chinese launch of its PlayStation 2, blaming an “unfavorable environment” for the delay. A statement posted on the company's Chinese-language Web site didn't elaborate on the decision or set a new launch date.
Sony and other game makers such as Nintendo have been wary of launching products in mainland China, despite huge potential demand, largely because of fears of piracy.
There have also been reports suggesting that PlayStation 2's advanced computer chips and graphics functions might have military applications that would preclude export to China under U.S. and Japanese law.
Robert Kirtland is The Blade's wine critic. His columns appear every Sunday in The Blade and on toledoblade.com.
FROM THE BLADE'S WIRE SERVICES AND STAFF.
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