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Spotify US plans perk with talk of Sony Music deal

Spotify‘s fortunes in the US may have experienced a sudden turnaround, with reports from within the music industry that the streaming music service is “days away” from signing a deal with Sony Music, and has the promised support of another. According to the NYPost‘s music exec tipster, “Spotify is launching in the US, for sure… They’ve got the deals now.”

Earlier this month, reports suggested that labels were demanding sizeable upfront payments, concerned that Spotify would fail to secure sufficient premium subscribers – who pay a monthly fee so as to avoid listening to adverts and to have access to higher-bitrate tracks – and thus not make as much money as paid-download alternatives like iTunes. Sources claimed that Spotify was considering axing US expansion plans, rather than risk their imminent profitability in the European market.

The company has declined to comment on any specific deals that may be underway, though says that “negotiations are progressing well.” Spotify had originally intended to launch in the US in 2009, then missed their next self-imposed 2010 deadline.

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Android Froyo update progress rated: AT&T and Sony Ericsson slated

Android 2.2 Froyo has been in the wild for months now, but there are still plenty of people out there waiting (im)patiently for their device to be updated. ComputerWorld decided to figure out the best and worse US carriers and manufacturers in 2010 based on their Froyo upgrades, and somewhat unsurprisingly it’s HTC and Verizon at the top of the pile.

At the bottom sit AT&T and Sony Ericsson, neither of which updated a single device in their range to Froyo. The ranking coincides with word that AT&T’s Dell Streak 2.2 update has again been delayed, while Sony Ericsson has admitted that it’s abandoned hopes to bring Froyo to the XPERIA X10, X10 mini and X10 mini pro.

[via Android Community]

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HannStar Display president charged with LCD conspiracy

HannStar Display president Ding Hui Joe has been indicted as part of anti-trust investigations into LCD price fixing. According to the charges, the exec took part in clandestine meetings and illegal sales info swapping for four years, up until January 2006, as part of an attempt by LCD industry players to maintain pricing and avoid supplier undercutting.

Apple, Dell and HP have all been impacted by the conspiracy, which kept artificially high the prices on laptop, desktop and mobile device displays. Ding Hui Joe faces fines of up to $1m and a potential prison sentence of up to 10 years if he is convicted; he is the 22nd executive charged. HannStar has separately agreed to pay $30m in fines for its part in the affair.

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Samsung Gets Smallish with the Galaxy Mini – Debuting at MWC 2011

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Samsung seems to have a lot up their sleeves for Mobile World Congress coming up this February. Superphones and dual-core behemoths aside, they’ve got a little bit for every sect of the smartphone market. The Samsung Galaxy Mini – otherwise known as the S5570 – runs Android 2.2.1, has a 320×240 resolution display (size not yet known), TouchWiz, Bluetooth 3.0, WiFi N, a camera (resolution and features unknown, but no flash), and has a microSD card slot. Not too bad, if the price is right. [via Samsung Hub]

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Modu Has to Close Its Doors

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A sad day, indeed. Modu – the folks who make small modular phones for which to insert into various jackets for extended functionality – has to sell off all of their stocks, assets, bonds, capital: whatever. They’ve not been able to make enough money to pay employee salaries and debts owed, according to reports origination from Israel.

They’re little known on our side of the globe  - I bet you guys didn’t even know that one or some of these little Modu phones were running Android. It’s sad to see them go, however, as they were an ambitious company who was very excited about what they were providing. Farewell, Modu. [via BGR]

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Android Development Being Offered as a Public College Course by NJIT

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We’ve been dying to see more Android in schools – whether it be for application development courses or devices used as companion tools for learning. We’ve seen middle schools and high schools adopt Android to teach budding programmers, and now the New Jersey Institute of Technology is offering public courses for anyone who wants to learn how to develop for Android.

Things kick off January 18th for just $1,050: I’d consider that a small price to pay, pending the quality of education. I’m actually kind of wishing there were courses like that in my area. I’m sure many of you wouldn’t travel to Jersey for this course, but if you’re in that area and you’ve been wanting to get into Android development, it sounds worth a quick shot. Press details straight ahead.

Want to learn more about creating and deploying the world’ s fastest growing mobile operating system? Then consider enrolling in NJIT’s newest non-credit, 30-hour online course offering Android applications for software simulators and hardware devices.

The Android Operating System Application Development Course, which starts Jan. 18, 2011, is open to the public and will offer the skills and tools needed for designing and implementing software using the Android 2.2 environment. The cost is $1,050: register by Jan. 17, 2010 at or call 800-624-9850.

"Consider this course an excellent way to get a start on developing applications for a tablet operating system," said instructor Tim Kellers. During the past year, Android systems have demonstrated a 35 percent increase in market share. "As new smart phones and tablet devices appear, there is a growing competitive opportunity to design and market commercial Android-based apps," added Kellers.

The Android operating system is the marketplace’s response to Apple’s iPhone/iPad ios4 operating system. Android developers, however, are not limited to developing for only one hardware manufacturer. Android operating systems are now distributed on more than 20 brands of hardware and are available to any cell phone service provider.
Because the Android operating system is based on open source software, no proprietary restrictions or license fee payments are required to use its software and open-source development tools. There are also no charges for using the software of the development environment tools.

The Android market is the clearing house for user-designed apps, offering developers a fast and convenient way to be paid for their distributed software. The Android market already has upwards of 100,000 apps available for purchase or free download. Within two years, the projected demand for Android-based application software is expected to exceed the capacity of Apple’s highly successful AppStore. The combined annual revenues paid to developers from both platforms are annually expected to exceed $3 billion.

NJIT will award three continuing education units (CEUs) upon the successful completion of the course. Study topics will include getting started, Android controls using XML, table layout in Android, interface themes, creating background services and using the WebKit. More topics include user interfaces, programming services and investigating multi-threading. Each student will design their own final project application, a culmination of performed tasks and assignments included in each module.

To get started, you’ll need a dial-up or broad-band Internet connection in addition to a computer capable (or higher) of running the 2.2 Android Software Development Kit plus a supported operating system. Such systems include Windows XP (32-bit), Vista (32- or 64-bit), or Windows 7 (32- or 64-bit); Mac OS X 10.5.8 or later (x86 only); Linux (tested on Linux Ubuntu Hardy Heron); the Eclipse development environment.

For further information on the course and syllabus, you may wish to click here.

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Korg KAOSS Pad QUAD mangles audio with 4-effect touchpad control

Korg’s KAOSS Pad range have long been the fondle-box favorites of pro and amateur musicians, and the company has a new model out this week. The Korg KAOSS Pad QUAD is centered around a backlit touchpad, as usual, but now allows for up to four effects simultaneously; they can be sync’d to the input, using auto-BPM matching, for a total of 1,295 different effects combinations.

Any input can be used, so you can mangle your iPod playlist or plug in a proper synth; alternatively there’s a microphone input. Effects are split into four combinable categories – Looper; Modulation; Filter; and Delay/Reverb – and Korg has polished the selection process so there’s less options-menu digging involved.

Connectivity includes a pair of RCA inputs and a microphone input, while outputs include RCA and a headphones jack. No word on pricing at this stage, but the Korg KAOSS Pad QUAD should go on sale imminently.


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DigiPower iPad accessories launch

DigiPower has announced three new accessories for the iPad that will make it easier to use your tablet and one of them will help you charge the thing up. One of the accessories is called the Coffee Clutch Carry Case and Portable Stand. The design adds a carry handle to the top of the iPad to make it very portable.

Other features include a detachable shoulder strap and a flexible rubber border. The Coffee Clutch also has a fold out stand to prop the iPad up. The company also has a Universal Charging Dock that connects to your PC to charge and sync the iPad. It has a wide base, LED power indicator, and will charge the iPhone or iPod.

The final new accessory is the Portable Stand for iPad. The thing has a slide in design that you slip your iPad into and the stand will prop the iPad up in two angles. It will work in portrait or landscape modes and can be purchased in gray or glossy white finishes. Pricing and availability on the new products is unannounced at this time.


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Angry Birds plush characters announced

Of all the mobile games that I have on my iPad and on the iPhone, my daughter loves Angry Birds the most. The first thing I had to do when the Galaxy Tab came in was add Angry Birds to it as well. The game is a lot of fun, even if it can get frustrating on some levels after you try to beat the stupid pigs a hundred times.

A company in the UK called Firebox has announced that it will be offering a full series of Angry Birds plush toys. In other words, these stuffed animals look like the birds and the pig in the game. The largest of the offerings are 8-inch plush animals in blue, red, and yellow birds or the green pig for £9.99 each.

The company also has backpack clips with the blue, red, or yellow birds for £3.99 each. To really annoy parents they also have some mini Angry Birds plush animals that have sound effects. You can get them in black, blue, red, white, and yellow birds as well as the green pig. The sound characters are £4.99 each. Shipping is included in the price, presumably in the UK. All of the plush animals are up for pre-order and will ship on March 1.

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Sculpteo makes 3D figures of your whole family

3D printing is a really cool way to make all those things that you can dream up into real physical items. The catch is that most 3D printers are more than the person who just wants to tinker can afford. If you ever wanted to be your own action figure, Scuplteo will 3D print your design or one of theirs for you and it’s really cool.

You can send in your family photo and Sculpteo will make each person in the picture into their own 3D character. The finished creations are painted and you can put them into a bunch of different outfits as well as choose the hairstyle.

Scuplteo also offers design software on the site to make your 3D model. The process is cool and the finished products appear to have a texture to them that looks a bit like sand. The only downside is that the avatars are expensive at about $74.90 each for custom offerings.

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