ZUNE SERVICE TO LAUNCH IN UK?
-- Rumors are circulating that Microsoft will launch the Zune Pass music service in the U.K. in a few weeks. WMPoweruser posted a screen shot of a Zune Pass sign-up page that shows pricing options in British pounds sterling– £8.99 ($13.89) plus tax for one month or £26.97 ($41.68) plus tax for three months. Like the U.S. service, the U.K. service, as described in the text of the sign-up page, includes ten song credits per month.

In a statement, Microsoft would say only that it is testing Zune features in various markets other than the U.S., which is the only place the Zune Pass is currently available. Microsoft’s new mobile phone operating system, Windows Phone 7, is scheduled to hit the market next month. And the fact that the Zune PC software will be the synchronization client for Windows Mobile 7 has been widely reported.

Early reviews of Windows Mobile 7 have been positive. In a comprehensive, hands-on review, tech blog Gizmodo called it “the most groundbreaking phone since the iPhone,” “a total break from the past” and “fun.” (WMPoweruser, The Telegraph, Gizmodo)


TAMPA AMPHITHEATER BACK IN BUSINESS
-- Two days after a flash flood resulted in the cancellation of a Jonas Brothers concert at Tampa’s 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre, a John Mayer show is set to go on as planned. The flooding had reportedly affected several rows near the stage – a video taken by none other than Nick Jonas showed seats nearly submerged in water. (St. Petersburg Times)


'COPYRIGHT IS COMPLICATED'
-- Like father like daughter. Bevin Carnes, professional animator and daughter of Rick Carnes (head of The Songwriters Guild of America) is blogging about copyright at the Huffington Post (where her father also posts on occasion). Her latest post is titled “Copyright is Complicated.” In it she takes to task anonymous downloaders and supporters of the free culture.

“I'm amazed, for example, by how many supporters of the free culture movement have tried to tell me how the film industry works. That's pretty funny, I think, because I studied filmmaking in college, I've won a Student Academy Award, worked at two of the major studios, and am currently working as an independent filmmaker. I'm also an I.A.T.S.E. member who has seen my union benefits dwindle over the past 3 years. So I'm always puzzled when people who know next to nothing about how my industry works try to instruct me on how it supposedly works, and why it's not fair that they should have to pay anything for the work that I've created.” (Huffington Post)


A LOOK AT REDBOX'S SUCCESS
-- As digital downloads and streaming become the norm in video, one company’s success shows physical formats still have some life in them. Redbox, the kiosk-based DVD rental service owned by Coinstar, Inc., has surpassed one billion rentals, according to an email sent out to customers on Friday. The company rents DVDs for $1 per day from red kiosks located at public places such as McDonald’s stores and grocery stores. Redbox has 24,000 locations around the country. In spite of its limited range of titles (each kiosk holds different 200 titles), the company says it currently rents 9.5 million DVDs a week.

To put this milestone in perspective, iTunes sold its billionth track in February 2006, nearly three years after its debut in the U.S. Over one billion digital tracks have been sold in the U.S. in the last two calendar years, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and one billion tracks will be surpassed again in 2010.

Of course, there is a major difference between iTunes and a DVD rental kiosk: the DVD rental market is a mature market whereas iTunes was the first download store to break into the mainstream. But iTunes has scale that Redbox lacks. iTunes is able to be accessed by anybody with an Internet connection and an installed iTunes client. Redbox, on the other hand, requires a trip to a physical kiosk (which are placed in high-traffic areas).

The success of Redbox is at odds with the hype over Internet video. Roku and Apple’s iTV are already making waves, and Google TV is on the horizon. Consumers have on-demand streaming at Netflix and Hulu. But not all titles are available on these services, and many Americans are content to watch movies on their DVD players. In the end, the best way to get recently released titles is on DVD, and that makes an automated kiosk filled with a purportedly dead format a valuable business. (Press release)