Merry CultCast, boys and girls! This week: Santa gets a little “grabby”; Apple wins a major lawsuit; our iPhones deserve “rollover” data plans; the incredibly low payouts artists get from Spotify; and the high-end gifts we really want but will never get on an all-new Get To Know Your Cultist.
Thanks to Audible for supporting this episode. Audible, the home of over 150,000 audio books from practically every genre in existence. Grab our Leander Kahney’s book, Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products, for free with a 30-day Audible trial.
Pop some bubbly for Apple’s best apps, movies and games of the year. Photo: Andy Wright/Flickr CC
Apple’s got some great things planned for 2015, but before we get there we need to look back at the year that was 2014.
With that in mind, today marks the release of the company’s annual iTunes Store awards — highlighting the best music, movies, books, podcasts, apps and games from one of Apple”s most eventful years in history.
If you’re looking for the best possible recommendations for enjoyably passing the time this holiday season (at least until Cult of Mac announce our own “best of 2014’ lists), you can find out Apple’s list of winners after the jump:
Apple was forced by major record labels to implement digital rights management technology in iTunes, according to testimony in an ongoing class-action lawsuit that accuses Cupertino of stifling competition with competing music services.
Apple contemplated licensing its DRM, called FairPlay, to other companies, “but we couldn’t find a way to do that and have it work reliably,” said Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services.
Tim Cook and U2 just got roasted for forcing music onto customers’ iPhones, but from 2007 to 2009, Steve Jobs’ Apple was allegedly playing a different tune, and deleted music off of iPods that was purchased on rival music services.
That wouldn’t have been so bad if it were just your embarrassing Nickelband albums, but attorneys for consumers at the ongoing antitrust lawsuit, say iTunes deleted all rival files without ever giving users a warning that they were about to lose their tunes.
Evidence from Steve Jobs will form a large part of Apple’s latest antitrust case. Photo: Ben Stanfield/Flickr CC
Previously unseen emails and a videotaped deposition of Steve Jobs is set to play a key part in a long-running class action antitrust lawsuit against Apple, which goes to trial this week.
First filed back in 2005, the lawsuit argues that Apple put itself in a monopolistic position by refusing to allow iPod customers to use non-iTunes music on their iPods, thanks to software upgrades issued by Apple. The case saw little action for its first seven years, but picked up steam with a judge’s ruling in May 2012, and is now finally arriving in the court room.
“We will present evidence that Apple took action to block its competitors and in the process harmed competition and harmed consumers,” the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer was quoted as saying in an article for the New York Times.
First U2, and now this? Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
You’ll soon have Beats Music on your iOS device whether you want it or not.
Apple is planning to bake the streaming music service into iOS in early 2015, according to The Financial Times. The integration could happen “as early as March,” which would line up with the possibility of a media event to announce the rumored iPad Pro.
Apple paid nearly zero taxes on iTunes in Europe. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Apple’s tax tactics in Ireland have landed the company in Congress’ hot seat this year, but another European nation has also helped Apple wiggle its way out of paying massive taxes on its iTunes revenues.
Apple reportedly took advantage of Luxembourg’s complex and corporation-friendly taxation system to get out of paying taxes on its iTunes revenue in Europe. The country has a 29% corporate tax rate, but after negotiating a deal, Apple paid only $25 million in taxes out of the $2.05 billion in iTunes revenue. Apple’s not the only American company exploiting Luxembourg’s tax laws either, with some companies paying less than 1% of revenue.
Here’s how Apple avoids paying nearly all taxes in Europe:
Downloads are dead, long live music streams. Photo: Kobalt/TechCrunch
If you’re searching for further evidence that music streaming is overtaking downloads, look no further than a new report claiming that over the last quarter European revenue from Spotify streams were 13% higher than revenues from iTunes downloads.
The report comes from Kobalt, a company that helps collect music royalties on behalf of thousands of big-name artist. Currently it only collects earnings from Spotify streams in Europe — which means it’s unknown if similar figures are true in the U.S.
This time last year, iTunes’ earnings were 32% higher than that of Spotify in Europe, although streaming revenues have tripled over the past two years.