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theEweekly Wrap: Streaming, sales and Panda Power

Spendify Music streaming service Spotify has announced in an official blog post that services for non-paying users are to be reduced. Once loved and celebrated as a place to listen to new music for free, this will now only be unlimited for the first six months.

From 1 May 2011, users with accounts more than six months old will be able to listen to just 10 hours free per month, and can only listen to each track five times. Spotify claimed this would not affect most users, and that the changes were essential in order to continue providing a free on-demand service. The paid options, Unlimited and Premium, will remain unchanged, and will be offered to users as a short free trial. Spotify reached one million paying subscribers in March.

Panda power Google’s Panda algorithm update was unleashed on the UK this week, with some sitemasters already reporting its impact on their search results rankings. The update was intended to damage the ranking of content farms: sites that simply copy or gather content from other sites, and sites full of low-quality content aimed at search engines and littered with ads. In theory, this would enable sites with high-quality original content to overtake them.

According to stats in a Searchmetrics blog, original news sites including the Mirror, the Independent, TechCrunch, Mashable and Metro have all seen large improvements. Other winners include eBay (+42 per cent) and the Google-owned YouTube (+18 per cent). Meanwhile, the algorithm change has resulted in severe ranking drops for tech news sites, several voucher code sites, and Ciao.co.uk (-94 per cent) – a Microsoft-owned price comparison site.

PCs plod Sales of PCs are on the decline, according to statistics from US technology research firm Gartner. Worldwide, 84.3 million units were sold in the first quarter of 2011; however, this translates to a one per cent decline on the same period in 2010. In terms of individual companies, Acer saw a 12 per cent drop, while Chinese company Lenovo gained 16 per cent on Q1 2010.

Gartner blamed the decline in PC sales on several factors. In India, consumers spent their money on televisions in preparation for the Cricket World Cup. In Japan, the earthquake and tsunami were cited as reasons for slow sales. Latin America, home to Brazil’s emerging economy, actually saw growth this quarter. However, in the US and Western Europe, Gartner believes consumers were preoccupied by cutting-edge devices such as media tablets; indeed, both continents were buzzing with the iPad 2 launch hype last month.

Written by Rachel Hand

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