1.2 Billion Apps Downloaded Worldwide in Last Week of 2011
-- Consumers around the world downloaded a record 1.2 billion apps from Christmas to December 31, according to app analytics company Flurry. U.S. consumers accounted for 509 million of those downloads, followed by China (99 million), U.K. (81 million), Canada (41 million), Germany and France (40 million) and South Korea (34 million). The U.S. accounts for such a large share of app downloads because of high smartphone penetration. Prior to the holidays, Flurry estimated the U.S. had 41 percent - or 109 million units - of the total active install base for iOS and Android devices of 246 million units.
Last week, Flurry estimated  that 6.8 million smartphones were activated and 242 million apps were downloaded on Christmas day. Based on those activations, Flurry expected the Christmas-to-New Year's Day period to see 1 billion app downloads. Over 140,000 apps use Flurry analytics, which the company says gives it the ability to detect nearly all iOS and Android devices activated each day. The company did not break down these numbers according to paid versus free apps. ( Flurry blog )
2011 U.S. Music Sales Were Hardly 'Flat,' Contrary to Headlines ...
-- Reuters' headline "US music sales in 2011 were flat" gets only half right a story that be in the news a lot in the next few weeks. The headline at the original story at TheWrap , "Thanks to Gaga and Adele, Music Business Finally Improves in 2011," doesn't make that mistake.
With one week left in the year, album sales were up 1 percent, according to Nielsen SoundScan. After years of sales declines and constant worries about CD format, a 1-percent gain is something of a triumph. But that's unit sales. If you've been in a mass merchant recently, or if you've looked at the trends in the value of shipped units available at the RIAA's website, you've noticed retail prices have dropped quite a bit over the years. It's the result of a greater emphasis on low-price catalog, but new releases have become more affordable, too.
The improvement in track sales, the half of the story ignored by Reuters's headline, is buried deep within the story. TheWrap does a good job addressing the difference in album-oriented and track-oriented artists, but headliner readers - and there are always many of them - could easily get the wrong impression that track sales were also flat. But track sales will actually finish the year up about 8 percent (that's where tracks stood as of December 25, the next-to-last week in SoundScan's year). That was a nice improvement from the 1-percent gain in 2010. An 8-percent gain in 2011 is especially notable because of the larger base. The 12-percent gain in 2009 meant an increase of 89 million tracks over the same 52-week period. Two years later, an 8-percent gain through December 25 has meant a 95 million-track gain. ( Reuters/TheWrap) 
Sugar Hill Gang, Moments, Sylvia Robinson Estate Join the Line in Suing Universal Over Royalties
-- Another week, another lawsuit over royalties. Universal Music Group has been sued in a New York state court by the Sugar Hill Gang, the Moments and the executors of the estate of Sylvia Robinson, who co-founded Sugar Hill Records in 1979. According to a report at AllHipHop.com, the lawsuit states that Universal has ignored agreements with the Sugar Hill label that date back to 1969. The Moments were signed to Stang Records, a pre-Sugar Hill label founded by Robinson and her husband Joe. The Sugar Hill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" was the first record released by Sugar Hill Records.
Universal has also been at the receiving end of lawsuits by Peter Frampton, the Knack's Bruce Gary and Eminem  producers F.B.T. Productions and Em2M over digital royalties. ( AllHipHop.com )
What Impact Will Gas Prices Have on This Summer's Concerts?
-- What do Middle East oil production and concert promotion have in common? The former impacts the latter. Gas prices are widely seen as a factor in out-of-home entertainment spending on everything from concerts to sports and vacations. When gas prices are high, consumers feel pinched and reduce some entertainment spending. High gas prices also impact touring musicians due to the increased cost of traveling between cities.
The new year begins with numerous signs of higher gas prices in 2012. Joe Petrowski, CEO of Gulf Oil says  refining margins are "as low as they're going to go" and predicts prices will "probably be in the $3.50s rather shortly." Petrowski adds consumers won't mind $3.50 gas, but will begin to pull back spending at $3.80, he says.
The end of a 30-year-old federal subsidy for ethanol could raise gas prices, too. As USA Today  explains, the 45-cents-per-gallon tax credit given to ethanol blenders meant a 4.5-cent subsidy for each gallon of E-10 fuel, which is 10 percent ethanol.
Finally there is the political tension between Iran and the West. The Wall Street Journal reported  Tuesday that oil futures hit an 8-month high in the wake of Iran's threats to disrupt the supply of oil through the Straits of Hormuz, although one analyst is quoted as saying Iran's posturing won't actually have an impact. An increase in manufacturing activity in several countries, which means an increase in demand for oil, was also cited as a reason for the increase in oil futures.