Amazon are top of the pops for entertainment

January 27th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazon are top of the pops for entertainmentAmazon took one in every four pounds spent on an entertainment solution, in the run up to Christmas.

The online retailer was the key victor in physical sales of music, games and DVD products, with a 25.6% of the market. Get that! Over a quarter of all sales! Amazon must be thrilled.

They beat Tesco with 14.7% and HMV with a measly 13.9%, according to figures from Kantar Worldpanel.

However, what makes these figures interesting is that shoppers still buy the bulk of their entertainment products on the high street, in the few remaining vendors that cater for them, and Black Friday had an effect too, with heavily discounted promotions tempting the weak inside.

Fiona Keenan, strategic insight director at Kantar Worldpanel, said: “While consumers’ average online spend increased by 6% this Christmas, they still spent less than they did when shopping in physical stores as retailers struggled to get them to shop impulsively online.”

“A third of in-store purchases were bought purely on impulse, creating an additional £119m for the industry, but when shopping online this proportion halved. Retailers need to identify ways to encourage impulse purchasing in an online environment, particularly as so much of our spend goes through this channel.”

Asda, however, fared less well in the game and music sales area, falling 3.4%, to 9.5% of the market. But such is the way of these things, as Asda and Tesco both cut back on the CD and DVD offerings in many of their larger stores.

Game Digital also did rather well, 1.4 percentage points, but it has issued a profit warning after selling too many games too cheaply on Black Friday. The buffoons.

Sky: deflecting porn with their shield

January 21st, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

porn Sky: deflecting porn with their shieldSky have introduced the Sky Broadband Shield internet filter.

The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter will help protect the nippers from any adult content, and will be rolled out to all their users on an opt-out type scene.

The company have already been emailing their customers about the modesty blanket, saying that they’re getting it whether they like it or not, regardless of whether children are on hand to be alarmed by the likes of gunfire, screaming and baps.

The Sky Broadband Shield internet filter blocks sites deemed inappropriate for kids under the age of 13 during daytime hours, when they should be at school anyway, rather than seeking out wangs on xtube.

Lyssa McGowan, brand director of communications products at Sky, said about the Sky Broadband Shield internet filter: “We’re all aware that cyberspace can present security risks, and that the internet isn’t universally suitable for children. At Sky, when it comes to online safety for all, we take our responsibility very seriously and we want what is best for our customers.”

“What we’re doing now is simply making sure that the automatic position of Sky Broadband Shield is the safest one for all – that’s ‘on’, unless customers choose otherwise.”

So, keep an ear out for people ringing Sky’s customers services and saying “Why yes… I’d like to watch dirty films with my internet connection…”

HMV beat off Amazon for pop purchases

January 16th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

hmv 300x168 HMV beat off Amazon for pop purchasesHMV have announced that they’ve beaten off Amazon.

Well, more nudged ahead in terms of physical music product sales, not completely destroyed them in a fight to the death or owt.

Sales of vinyl went up by 170% – which in real talk terms means 350,000 – as it seems people don’t just like the feel of the stuff, they want to hold those inches it in their hand and feel special, and carry it around like some head from the early ’70s with their Dark Side of the Moon racket or something.

This is all very encouraging for HMV, seeing as they were on Deathwatch a couple of years ago and gradually evaporated out of our towns.

CDs were up by 1.5% even though they’ve declined in general by 4.9%. Part of this may also be down to the supermarkets cutting back on selling CDs unless they’re like a guaranteed biggie like a Now! album.

Paul McGowan, CEO of HMV’s owner Hilco Capital said: “HMV has captured more and more market share in a year when major new movie releases have been scarce and there have been only a few major album successes.”

This is good news for physical formats, which have been under siege from downloads for more than a decade and, more recently, streaming services like Spotify, who now count towards chart figures, where something like that Clean Bandit number ‘Rather Be’ was streamed about a billion times.

CD sales have halved since 2009, and even the biggest selling acts like Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith only just broke a million sales of their efforts in 2014, but the rest of the best sellers of the year dropped off quite sharply as regards physical.

But it’s all good news. Whether you’re trying to locate a copy of that Paranoid London vinyl only affair, or trolling around Amazon’s marketplace for ancient Now albums, Music literally is the winner.

So, hurrah then, for the slightly up and down world of pop music!

Spotify subscriptions are up!

January 14th, 2015 No Comments By Ian Wade

spotify logo Spotify subscriptions are up!Spotify have revealed that they’ve recruited 15 million subscribers in 2014. The streaming effort also revealed that it had 60 million active users as the year ended.

Not bad eh?

The blog on their site failed to go into much more detail as to where and who was subscribing, but it suggests that the bulk of the gain happened in the second half of the year.

Paying subscribers make up around 25% of the Spotify user base, with most of the growth coming from mobile devices – 42% on phones and 10% on tablets – with old school desktops providing 45% and 3% on the web player.

Spotify’s mobile explosion validates its decision to offer users free access to its streaming catalogue on IOS and Android smartphones and tablets late 2013 for the first time.

And this was after Taylor Swift took her back catalogue off the service too.

It’s all set to get interesting in 2015 though, with Apple’s Beats Music, Pandora and Google Play muscling in more and more into Spotify’s manor and, of course, simultaneously, there’s a vinyl revival afoot too! The heat is on.

Call for event ticketing reform to stop touts

January 12th, 2015 4 Comments By Mof Gimmers

tickets Call for event ticketing reform to stop toutsBuying tickets for a sporting or music event is often wildly frustrating. When an event sells out, then punters find themselves looking for resales, and it is here that people from the world of entertainment and sports want a rethink.

They’d like to see new controls on websites selling event tickets and would like to see resellers publishing the names of ticket sellers and face value of tickets, in a bid to stop fans getting ripped off. There’s a letter, which was published in the Independent which was signed by heads of sporting and cultural bodies, as well as the management companies of entertainers.

This is a bid to stop touts making a fast buck and, indeed, control the market that resells tickets for needlessly inflated prices. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport are on record as saying that they don’t see a change in law happening, but the industry is pushing MPs to do something as secondary ticketing sites are able to add whatever surcharges they like, getting themselves a nice commission.

So, if these companies buy tickets for a popular event in bulk, they can resell them for profit, meaning that tickets at face-value aren’t getting into the hands of the people trying to attend the event. This is undermining the efforts of sum to keep ticket prices fair.

The letter says: “It’s high time the government stopped sticking up for secondary platforms, and decided to put fans first.” They want to see measures that ensure secondary ticketing platforms publish; the name of the seller and whether they are affiliated to a larger organisation; the face value of the ticket; whether the resale contravenes terms and conditions agreed to by the original buyer and the seat number of the ticket.

These proposals have been suggested as a change to the Consumer Rights Bill

Of course, this would be a win for both sides – if a band cares about fans getting face-value tickets, they’ll be happy. Also, it means profits go to the band’s organisations, rather than being siphoned off by someone creating false demand.

The government’s culture spokesman, Viscount Younger of Leckie, thinks that forcing companies to play along with this isn’t needed, saying: ”I believe that a voluntary approach with improved guidance and with better point-of-sale electronic means to control ticketing is the way forward.”

Ikea have come up with quite a clever advert as part of their ‘Wonderful Everyday’ campaign.

The ad sees flocks of t-shirts migrate back to homes with stylish Ikea storage solutions. It’s quite good. Have a butchers below. The 60-second ‘Joy of Storage’ commercial hits screens on 10th January across the UK and Ireland before print, digital and outdoor in the following weeks.

Ikea UK and Ireland marketing manager, Peter Wright, explained that the brand wants to move people’s thoughts away from seeing storage as simply a functional part of the home.

And he’s spouted a load of guff to back this up.

“Whether you have a detached house in the country or a one-bed flat in town, we know that there is joy and satisfaction in giving the things you love a home, whatever your storage needs are. The Joy of Storage is about the time saved and the stress reduced when you have things easily to hand, stored out of sight, or the freedom you get when things are in order.”

Freedom, everyone. FREEDOM.

prince1 300x187 Over 2,000 free MS DOS games to be played on your computer!Fans of old video games can rejoice as a huge library of MS-DOS games have been archived and are playable on your computer.

And you won’t need to dust down a floppy disk or mess around with command prompts as they’re playable in your browser.

The MS-DOS Software Library has gathered up games in advance of 2,300 titles, including Street Fighter II, Golden Axe, Prince of Persia (pictured), Metal Gear, SimCity, Maniac Mansion, Arkanoid, ZZT, Micro Machines and Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Naturally, there’s a load of rubbish in there, but of course, for gaming nuts, that’s not entirely bad news either as there’s something rather sweet about reliving the frustrations of playing something that you thought was complete crud, way back when.

The site is exempt from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) because it is hosting games that are on a format that is effectively dead.

Not that you should care about that as such. You should rummage around and see what games they have and coo at the graphics and remind yourself how tricky gaming used to be.

Play games at the MS-DOS Software Library here.

Netflix RIP

January 5th, 2015 5 Comments By Ian Wade

netflix transparent Netflix RIPIt looks like Netflix are cracking down on cheeky people using proxy servers and VPNs to enjoy their wares.

The online video vendor has various differences in its available content depending on which territory it serves, and with VPNs, people can get around such square restrictions and unlock the goodies. Basically, the UK one isn’t nearly as good as the US one, so by doing this, people are going to be very irritable indeed.

Some subscribers are claiming they received an error message when trying to circumvent the geolocation restrictions, according to TorrentFreak.com, while VPN provider TorGuard’s Ben Van der Pelt told the site some of its users had encountered the notification.

Pelt said: “A few weeks ago we received the first report from a handful of clients that Netflix blocked access due to VPN or proxy usage. This is the very first time I’ve ever heard Netflix displaying this type of error message to a VPN user.”

“I have a sneaking suspicion that Netflix may be testing these new IP blocking methods temporarily in certain markets. At this time the blocks do not seem aggressive and may only be targeted at IP ranges that exceed too many simultaneous logins,” he added.

Netflix have recently been under fire from film studios to try and enforce regional restrictions, due to differing distribution deals in place around Earth.

Netflix are denying it, but then they would, eh conspiracy believers?

One of these days, the entertainment industry is going to cotton on to the fact that a lot of people go through this conversation in their heads when accessing TV shows and the like.

Entertainment Industry: Stop stealing our stuff!
User: Okay, fine. Can I watch this TV show then?
Entertainment Industry: *Not Available In Your Region*
User:  Argh! *fires up a torrent*

Looks like a good number of customers will be cancelling their subscriptions, according to online complaints. This could be very bad news for Netflix indeed.

Talk Talk to buy Blinkbox

December 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

blinkbox 300x174 Talk Talk to buy BlinkboxTalk Talk are in talk talks to take on Tesco’s troubled Blinkbox streaming service.

The phone firm are looking at it, and checking the tyres with a view to it helping strengthen their TV business.

Blinbox was acquired by Tesco in 2011 in a bid to be a sort-of Netflix type thing, along with music streaming. However when Tesco sailed into problems back in September, it was one of the first things that were fingered to be sold off in October.

Analysts expect Lewis to announce the disposal of non-core assets on January 8th, when he is due to outline his strategy for reviving the fortunes of Britain’s biggest grocer.

Vodafone had also looked at Blinkbox, which analysts say could be worth about £14 million, but that clearly didn’t happen past the ‘exchanged numbers with a vague plan for a meal’ stage of negotiations.

TalkTalk and Tesco declined to comment.

Amazon Prime attracts the millions

December 29th, 2014 6 Comments By Ian Wade

amazoninstant Amazon Prime attracts the millionsAmazon have claimed that their Prime membership thing brought in over 10 million new customers during the Christmas period (We’re not having ‘holiday season’).

According to a statement, the company’s division which offers up free shipping, streaming and various perk solutions, had introduced 4K streaming to Prime Instant Video in December, along with Prime Now – the service wherein it offers one-hour delivery on stuff bought through the mobile app.

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, said the company was “excited” to welcome its new members.

“We are working hard to make Prime even better and expanding the recently launched Prime Now to additional cities in 2015,” he added.

Sounds positively drunk on giddiness, that one.

Amazon also revealed that they shipped stuff to over 185 countries, and 60% of its shoppers shopped through mobile devices. Someone had a busy Christmas didn’t they? Still, they might deliver your goods in boxes four thousand times the size of the thing you bought.

Netflix and Tumblr team up

December 29th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

netflix transparent Netflix and Tumblr team upNetflix is coming to Tumblr!

Although no one really seems to know what a Netflix Tumblr will actually offer fans, but according to a online video on Yahoo’s social network with a post saying: “Waiting is the worst. We are officially counting down. Netflix is coming to Tumblr January 2015”.

It is more than likely that the upcoming profile will follow the template set by other brands on Tumblr, combining a mix of gifs, video clips and pictures to promote films and series on the service.

This should see an uplift in Netlfix’s overall marketing spend, which represents a small fraction of its total revenue. In 2013, the company’s advertising spend was $437.9m, roughly 10% of its revenue.

Crikey!

It’ll make a change from all the .gifs of Bob’s Burgers, Ryan Gosling and… wait… it’ll probably mean a huge spike in those things! Arrgh! Run for the hills!

Google to start publishing song lyrics

December 24th, 2014 No Comments By Mof Gimmers

2Unlimited 300x261 Google to start publishing song lyricsEver found yourself struggling with the lyrics of ‘No Limits’ by 2 Unlimited? Are you that person who sings “sparing his life from his warm sausage tea” in ‘Bohemian Rhapsody?

Well, Google want to help you out.

They’re going to start publishing song lyrics online and they’ve hired some special staff to transcribe and catalogue songwords, so you can look for the lyrics of your favourite songs. Of course, there’s already sites that do this, but Google aren’t fussed about that and will bump Lyricsmania down the rankings in no time at all.

It will be a little different to normal search results. If you search for phrases like “Love Action lyrics” or “Cruel To Be Kind lyrics”, the song lyrics will appear at the top of the page, rather than appearing in the normal search results. The third-party sites will appear just below them. It’ll be interesting to see what Metro Lyrics and (Rap) Genius do next.

A Google spokesperson said: “There’s a feeling you get when you turn to a song and you know that the words have two meanings. Well it’s whispered that now if you go search the tune, maybe Google will lead you to reason. Ooh, it makes you wonder.”

An infuriating nod to the most dadrock of all songs, ‘Stairway to Heaven’, there.

Billboard reckon Google have been working on this for a while, saying: “They’ve done direct licensing deals with the major publishers to enable the service, and they’re doing it internally at the moment. The data isn’t crowd-sourced; there’s a team of people working to create the database.”

Of course, Google could well be welcoming a load of legal action with this, as various music publishers and record companies have thrown out take-down notices to a variety of sites for hosting unlicensed lyrics. However, it is one thing taking on a little website, it is quite another taking on a company that acts like it owns the internet.

Still, at least you’ll be able to work out the lyrics for ‘Louie Louie’ easier.

jumper 260x300 Christmas jumpers: selling well and doing some goodChristmas jumpers. Exactly when did they become a thing? Did people exhaust the past so much that they now have to pretend they were all the rage once? We’ll never know.

However, it seems like the trend is still going strong, as Asda have reported that they’ve had a 160% increase from 2013 in theirs this year.

That works out at around one million of the things.

However, it’s all for charity, as Asda’s garment range George partnered up with Save the Children for the third annual Christmas Jumper Day, which took place on Friday 12 December.

An estimated 4 million participants donned yuletide numbers, raising over £1.5m for the charity. Hurrah for the nippers!

So, you know. Feed the world or something.

Playstation 4 may sell out before Christmas

December 22nd, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Playstation Buttons 300x1871 Playstation 4 may sell out before ChristmasSo many people want in on the PlayStation 4, that the company is running low.

Apparently something they’re calling ‘inventory challenges’, which translates in the normal world as “we’ve not made enough of them”.

Speaking to Reuters, Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Andrew House, who sort of obfuscates the actual truth and mists it over with the nonsense of “kind of hand to mouth in terms of that market”.

It’s not all lost though, you could get an Xbox One, as Microsoft’s pricing campaign in recent months has made that particular console outsell Playstation for the first time ever in the UK and US this November.

The PlayStation 4, which launched in November last year, has sold over 13 million units globally as of September, and has opened a wide lead over the Xbox One.

The figures make the PlayStation 4 the fastest selling console from Sony since the original PlayStation back in 1994. However, panic not, the company are doing all they can to supply the demand.

Bebo is back and bonkers

December 19th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

bebo Bebo is back and bonkersBebo is back!

Yes, the social network that was a social network before the others, has returned. However it’s now all hashtag and avatar messaging.

It first launched in 2005, but went on to spend a few years in the internet wilderness.

In 2013, the original founders Michael and Xochi Birch bought Bebo back from investors for $1 million and have now brought it back in a completely different format: a smartphone messaging app, which launched this week.

The Bebo app is a messaging service along the lines of WhatsApp and Snapchat, but with a load of unique features.

Users now create their own avatar, which you can accessorise with various new hair and skintones, and it’s now all over the site like a rash. Bebo users can chat with connections riddled with hashtags, which then act as links firing off in all manner of games and tools.

The new Bebo is now available to download for free from all regular app vendors.

You can make your little avatar fart and do erotic dances as well as play a Flappy Bird clone, all through the use of hashtags. It looks absolutely mental.

We should’ve known it’d be a daft affair though – when Bebo announced it was relaunching, Michael Birch made a video with the usual tech-promo aspirational music, however, his had a load of drawings of penises in it.