By samoore (1251644873|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)
Yahoo! and Rhapsody Deliver Full Song Playback
Think back to just a few years ago, when Napster had just been released, and it was the only way to download music tracks. Since then, a world of change has occurred in the downloadable music industry. First, competitors like Kazaa and Morpheus came about and gave Napster a run for its money. Then came the lawsuits by the RIAA, where Napster was sued by major bands and record labels, and anyone caught downloading music illegally was issued a huge fine. Finally, Napster was made a pay service, and the iTunes music store took over the industry.
Well, last month was another important event in the downloadable music industry. On September 18th, 2008, Yahoo! announced that it would be teaming up with Rhapsody to enable full-song playback in their Yahoo! Search results. That’s right. Those who use Yahoo! search can type in an artist and song, and will be able to click “play” at the top of the search results and instantly stream full-length songs.
What’s the catch? Well, there are a few:
- Not ALL songs ever created are available for streaming. However, an impressive 5 million tracks are available.
- Users can only listen to 25 free full-length tracks every 30 days. Once you have listened to your 25 free songs, you must subscribe to the Rhapsody service or continue to listen to an unlimited amount of 30 second previews.
How does it work?
- Yahoo’s FoxyTunes player supports the new initiative
- When the user clicks the play button, FoxyTunes opens up near the bottom of the browser window
My experience with the feature:
- Excited to check this feature out, I pulled up the Yahoo! Search page, and typed in the first song that came to my head. It happened to be Edgar Winter Group’s “Frankenstein”. I know, random. I typed it in, and no “play” options came up. Maybe my song selection was a little too old or too specific, I thought.
- Trying to think of a newer, more relevant song, I came up with “Womanizer” by Britney Spears. Again, nothing. Maybe it was too new?
- Finally, I typed in just “The Beatles”, and a list of streamable songs popped up. The sleek player on the bottom popped up, and it was really easy to stream the song. Awesome.
Overall, I think that this is a great move for Yahoo!, as they try to move into the music downloading space. Google doesn’t offer the same service, so it may help in gaining some market share. However, it’s limitations will definitely hurt it in the long-run. Personally, when I want to hear a song these days, I go straight to YouTube and search for it. There is a YouTube video for almost every song out there, which has the full-length song as the audio and a fixed image as the video. Since Yahoo!’s library of available songs is unlimited, I will probably continue to use YouTube to listen to a song I want to hear. Yahoo!’s move towards providing digital media will likely cause Google to counter, by acquiring or teaming up with a pay-for-music site. I imagine that in due time, an unlimited amount of full-length songs will be searchable and playable on Google and Yahoo! search engines.
- Facebook seems to be mulling a similar decision, as it looks to enter the digital music industry. Facebook too?
- MySpace is looking to control the industry as well. Check it out.
Brand-New Yahoo! Calendar is Released
What was one present that I could always count on getting for the holiday season during my childhood? A calendar. The calendar was themed, each month had a different photo, and I would hang it on my wall next to my desk. Well, those days are long gone. In a move to continue its realm as the number one web-based calendar service in the world, Yahoo! Calendar released a brand-new beta version on October 8th, 2008. The new calendar is more user-friendly and intends to enable its users to be more productive and more organized.
Some features of the new beta version
- Interoperable with other online calendar services, such as those from Mozilla, Apple, Microsoft, AOL, and Google.
- New calendar zoom capabilities
- Integration with Flickr, where users can add images to their calendar and give it the feel of a classic wall calendar
- Reminder feature can be set to send text messages as a reminder of alerts
- Drap and drop capabilities allow the user to drag appointments to new dates
- A new to-do list
My experience with online calendars
I have used an online calendar for years. To be completely honest, I don't need a lot of add-on features when it comes to my calendar. I just want the ability to add appointments and view them. In my opinion, the most important feature of an online calendar is interoperability with other calendar services. For example, when I get a new phone, I want to be able to automatically load my calendar onto it without worrying about compatibility issues.
What do I think of the new features?
The new features seem generally unimpressive and non-essential. The ability to add images to your calendar is purely an unnecessary add-on. Most of the new features in the beta version sound cool, but really don't add to the functionality of the calendar. I haven't gotten the chance to use it yet (since it hasn't come out), so I'll reserve judgment. That being said, I'm not too excited about the release.
Some concluding thoughts on Yahoo!
Alright, I'll come out and say it. I'm worried about Yahoo!. Here is why:
- They used to be on the cutting edge of innovation at all times, revolutionizing the search industry and everything that came with it. These days, however, they have fallen to a very distant second place to Google.
- I signed up to do my industry update on Google. Why? Because they are more exciting, more innovative, and I felt that they would have more interesting news surrounding them. However, I switched over to a Yahoo! update because only ONE other person had chosen Yahoo! for an industry update. This shows you something about what the average American thinks of the two companies.
- There is usually enough Google news for there to be 2 complete industry updates a week! I had over 6 weeks of potential Yahoo! news to fill my industry update. I struggled to find two semi-interesting stories!
- Google continues to lead the way for innovation 95% of the time, and Yahoo! follows.