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Week in Tech: 11m Apple Music subscribers isn’t all that impressive

This week, our man in the US looks closer at Apple’s early Music brags, how Now TV is a Sky-less youngster’s best friend and the continuing problems at HTC. He also laments the loss of Uber in his community.

More Beats stations could be key to Apple Music adoption
So apparently 11 million people signed up for the Apple Music trial and Apple is pretty psyched about that. Eddie Cue said he’s “thrilled.” I’d say that’s a pretty poor return, considering they’re giving it away for free.

People love free stuff, especially free music, so I thought more of the hundreds of millions of people with iPhones in their hands would have given it a try, especially given the publicity served up on a plate by Taylor Swift and Apple’s aggressive marketing push.

There’s also the fact that those numbers don’t really mean a lot right now. I’d be quite surprised if even a third of those people are still subscribing once there’s money leaving their bank account.

It was revealed this week Apple has the right to offer about 5 more Beats stations under the terms of its arrangements with artists. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw Apple go down that route sooner rather than later.

Beats 1 is undoubtedly Apple Music’s strongest and most unique selling point and even the station name suggests there are more to follow.

In a sideswipe at Spotify’s recommendations algorithms, this week, Jonny Iovine said Apple has “hundreds” of people working on curation. Put them to work.

Perhaps we could get a “Sounds of the UK” show that doesn’t consist entirely of London grime played by Julie Adenuga?

Related: Apple Music review
Apple Music

Now TV democratises Sky Sports and everybody wins
On the eve of the Premier League football season, Sky has outed a new version of its Now TV set top box. With Ethernet, a much faster processor and the potential for 1080p streams, it’s well worth the £15 and then some.

Earlier this week I was chatting to James Alexander of Now TV about how dramatically the business model has changed for Sky over the last 12 months or so. From having to commit to Sky for 12 months for at a time, you can now sign up for just 24 hours.

It’s great for the consumer, but for Sky it’s an opportunity to get customers they couldn’t reach before. Because they experiences are so different, there’s not a lot of cannibalisation either.

When I was a kid we couldn’t afford Sky, but it’s nice pretty nice for youngsters these days who can get an afternoon’s footy this weekend for not much more than it costs to rent a movie from iTunes. Or, they can get an entire Ashes test match just over a tenner through a weekly sub. No box, no dish and no £50 a month coming out of mum and dad’s back pocket.

Related: Hands-on with the new Now TV box
Now TV 13

HTC’s future looks grim. Should it ditch smartphones for good?
What now for HTC? The company’s shares plunged to their lowest depth in a decade earlier this week when the firm announced a staggering $8 billion loss, following the abject failure of the HTC One M9.

The Taiwanese company seems to be lurching from one crisis to another, doesn’t really have much of an identity anymore and is falling further and further down the Android pecking order with manufacturers like Motorola and OnePlus continuing to innovate and impress with their offerings. HTC isn’t even in the global top ten for sales anymore.

The muddled wearables strategy that has seen Under Armour-partnered devices pushed back indefinitely and the current lack of clarify surrounding the availability of the recently revamped Desire range is equally worrying. The company just seems a bit rudderless at the moment.

Now it’s questionable where the company’s future really lies in smartphones. Is it all up to the HTC Vive VR headset to save the day and revamp this beleaguered giant?

Unfortunately the doubts are starting to creep in there too…

Related: HTC Vive hands-on
HTC Vive

I’m Uber-bummed out, man

Some news a little bit closer to home for me. Uber disappeared from my county in South Florida this weekend because the local government, basically acting on behalf of the area’s powerful taxi industry, forced Uber out over requirement for drivers to have commercial insurance, among other issues.

Getting a taxi down here is horrendous. The cabs are dirty, expensive, while the drivers are rude and take forever to turn up. People don’t like to take them unless it’s an emergency. The real result of an Uber-less region will be loads of people driving when they shouldn’t be, making the county less safe for everyone.

For me, it’s back to walking to the pub or enlisting family members as DDs.

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