Apple’s online music services stumble

25 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Apple Adjusts Its App Store Algorithm, Impacting Some iPad Developers.

Maybe Apple Music really doesn’t want to conquer Spotify, at least not this week. To keep the playing field level and fair for all app developers, Apple on occasion changes the way its App Store ranking algorithm works, the fallout of which can impact developers’ standings in the App Store charts, which ultimately can impact their visibility, downloads, and revenue.

Now more than two years old, it’s showing its age in terms of interface and performance, and it might be replaced by a newer model in the near future. It’s the latest attempt by a streaming-music service to transform itself from the place where you go to play a couple dozen songs over and over, and dutifully save a couple hundred others you’ll probably never listen to, to the first place you go to find new music. “It’s a lovely idea, to think that someday Spotify or Apple Music might be so smart that the service knows exactly what you want to listen to or watch, and all you ever have to do is open the app and press a giant play button,” Pierce continues. “But that doesn’t work. Apple launched the service for in-house mobile use — iOS devices only, with an Android version to come — and Mac/Windows computers with a three-month free trial.

That could explain why Apple recently slashed the price from $99 to $69, giving it the distinction of being the cheapest top-shelf set-top box in our buying guide. People are finicky, especially with music.” And even if someone does find the secret to knowing what we want before we know we want it, there’s still a huge stumbling block to that level of personalization: It’s based on the assumption that our capacity for not just new music but new artists is as deep as we like to think it is. Apple Music arrives as a surprisingly clunky music streamer that, at least in its present state, poses no threat to Spotify. (In the first week of Apple Music’s launch in June, Spotify had its biggest week in Apple’s United States app store.) Create an Apple ID: If you don’t have one, get one. Despite being long in the tooth, this old Apple TV still has some redeeming qualities, especially for users who are deeply committed to the Apple ecosystem.

There are a number of ways to spot a possible rankings change, but one of the easiest is to keep an eye on the rankings of top mobile apps, like Facebook and others. He wrote this letter to the attorney general, saying he’s afraid Apple Music may undermine the consumer’s ability to make choices and pay lower prices. “I’m not necessarily going up against them, I’m asking the FTC to look into this.” Sen.

If you love, say, David Bowie or Kendrick Lamar or Taylor Swift, wouldn’t you rather be able to find a whole bunch of stuff by them that you’ve never heard before than simply be directed to an artist who supposedly sounds like Bowie, Lamar or Swift? It’s an argument that Berklee College music-business prof, and big-time R.E.M. fan, George Howard made convincingly in Forbes in a piece titled “Why Music Services Are Wasting Time Recommending New Music.” What is the value of being presented with artists “similar to REM,” Howard asks. “No other artist is similar to REM in my brain. Tell Apple Music what you like: Choose your favorite music genres and artists — displayed in little red bubbles, a leftover from Beats Music before it was purchased by Apple — or double-tap if you love-love them.

That’s why I love REM.” So let’s try a little experiment: What “related artists” does Spotify nudge you toward if you’re listening to Taylor Swift? Facebook’s iPad app offers a good example of the change, as its app moved from a No. 2 position in “Social Networking” and a No. 7 ranking “Overall” the day before, down to No. 4 and No. 24, respectively, on Friday, and then it crashed to No. 38 in “Social Networking” and a practically invisible No. 858 “Overall” by Monday.

Like how Apple takes a 30 percent cut of its competitors’ revenues from purchases made in apps, as well as app sales. “He’s right in the sense that if there were more competition than prices would fall even more,” Waldfogel said of Sen. Apple Music, the company’s new subscription streaming service, will get a native Apple TV app this fall, there are rumors of a subscription video service to follow . Using R.E.M. as bait, meanwhile, brings up the disparate (and not especially helpful) likes of U2, the Lemonheads, Crowded House and Crash Test Dummies. We reached out to mobile marketing firm Fiksu, which confirmed that it had also observed non-standard App Store behavior beginning last Friday that affected iPad rankings over the course of several days. “The apps that dropped have jumped significantly back up today,” noted Fiksu’s Chief Strategy Officer, Craig Palli on Wednesday, “but not all of them have returned to the ranks that they were at before the drop started on Friday,” he says.

But he says all streaming services offer much better prices than we used to pay way back when. “Compared to the old world this is a pretty good world for consumers. Lock in the three-month free trial: Apple offers three months free but also enlists you in auto-renewal that charges $9.99 (individual) or $14.99 (family) a month after the trial.

To disable auto-renewal when you sign up, tap the account icon in the upper-left corner of Apple Music, then sign into your iTunes account by tapping View Apple ID. Instead of a full app store, users get a tightly curated list of pre-installed apps, which means no apps for Amazon Prime, Spotify, Plex, or Sling TV. While many reported that, by later in the week, their apps’ rankings returned to “normal,” or at least close to where they were before, that wasn’t true for everyone.

Those downsides may not be deal breakers if you’re set the box’s Apple-exclusive features, but even in that case, it may be prudent to wait for a new model, which could come as early as this fall. Beware enabling Apple Music’s iCloud Music Library: Early users reported lost playlists and metadata, deleted songs, unwanted songs added and problems with album artwork. In some cases, their adjusted ranking represented only a small to medium-sized move – like say, just a few slots or as many as 10 slots lower or higher than before, to cite a couple of examples. How to lose Connect: Not everyone (including me) wants a Connect feature that “follows” artists after adding them to your library or purchasing a song on iTunes.

For instance, one developer who had one of their best sales day ever thanks to a promotion they were running found they had fallen out of the Top Grossing charts after the algorithm change. Others said that keywords they used to rank for now no longer pulled up their app in search at all, or they saw a significant drop in their popular keywords after the changes. If Apple only focused on some subset of these methods when making its adjustments, it follows that only some subset of apps would be affected long-term following the change. At the end of the day, what’s most interesting about this particular change is that it much more heavily affected iPad applications, instead of iPhone apps. That could indicate that Apple was looking to better its rankings for those who are building specifically for Apple’s tablet, and possibly rewarding the better iPad apps in the process.

The iTunes feature that allows any iOS or PC running iTunes to share music over a home network is not available with the latest iOS update (8.4) that includes Apple Music.

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