Keep an I on our Week (Ryder Cup Edition)

The top three articles this week were:

  1. What’s a Brands Digital IQ?
  2. The Next Big Thing likely comes from California, New York, Massachusetts or Washington
  3. New nook HD’s available in snow and smoke at Waitrose ….. 

On the tablet front Barnes & Noble took the honours with their nook HD & HD+ particularly on their UK November availability. Keep an eye on their website! Their UK twitter account could still do with a makeover although their number of followers has doubled!

Google are rumoured to be announcing a couple of new Nexus tablets in time for the upcoming spendfest (one allegedly @ $99 which might mean £79 ish over here!)

An ex-Google employee (Michal Bohanes) is a founder of the most interesting UK start-up we spotted this week Dinnr which serves the London area – great idea and some useful recipes.



On the Apple front, Tim Cook apologises (via an open letter in a press release) to all the 100 million (ish) customers who lost their way using the new Apple Maps system.

As it’s Ryder Cup weekend here’s a video of the rather impressive Medinah Country Club from Golfing World.

The Next Big Thing likely comes from California, New York, Massachusetts or Washington

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The Wall Street Journal have just published their 2012 “Ranking the Top 50 Start Ups

They, sort of, headline the article, “The Next Big Thing” which is, in our view nearer the mark as some of the companies started up in the last century and in their top ten the latest one was founded in 2007!

Their inclusion criteria are:

“To be eligible for the ranking—compiled by research firm VentureSource, which like The Wall Street Journal is owned by News Corp.—companies must be based in the U.S., have received an equity round of financing in the past three years and be valued at less than $1 billion, as the aim is to identify lesser-known start-ups. More than 5,900 candidates were considered.”

As per their infographic of the top ten 10% of the companies are in the Health Care sector. If a comparable UK listing was compiled we doubt if this sector would be as prominent.

We also noted the following numbers breakdown by state:

1   California 37

2   New York 4

3    Massachusetts 3

4   Washington 2

5= Colorado 1

5=  New Jersey 1

5=  North Carolina 1

5=  Texas 1

California is remarkable but understandable and possibly New York is a population #’s scenario with Massachusetts linked with their Institute of Technology. Washington we find interesting with one company Donuts Inc (a new domain registry company) based in Bellvue and the other Cheezeburger being based in Seattle. Both Amazon (AWS Global Start-up Challenge) and Microsoft (Bing Fund)  as we have mentioned before fund directly and indirectly new startup ventures and are based in Seattle and Bellvue. Whilst there may be no direct link we doubt if this is an entire coincidence.

In our list in addition to their top ten we’ve selected our personal choice of “interesting” companies.

Employees State Founded Funding WSJ Category
$ million
1 Genband Inc 1700 TX 1999 500 Information Technology
2 Xirrus Inc 170 CA 2004 100 Information Technology
3 Tabula Inc 120 CA 2003 215 Information Technology
4 Prosper Marketplace 70 CA 2005 81 Business & Financial Services
5 SpiderCloudWirelessInc 95 CA 2007 106 Information Technology
6 Docusign Inc 275 CA 2005 123 Business & Financial Services
7 Glaukos Corp 57 CA 2001 126 Health Care
8 Neuropace Inc 90 CA 1997 180 Health Care
9 10Gen Inc 155 NY 2007 74 Information Technology
10 Glam Media 280 CA 2004 135 Consumer Servicess
12 Plexxi n/a MA 2010 46 Information Technology
14 Donuts Inc n/a WA 2011 100 Business & Financial Services
16 Uber Media n/a CA 2010 27 Consumer Services
17 Etsy n/a NY 2005 91 Consumer Services
19 RockMelt Inc n/a CA 2009 40 Information Technology
21 Machinima Inc n/a CA 2005 50 Consumer Services
22 Appia Inc n/a NC 2008 28 Information Technology
23 Boku Inc n/a CA 2009 73 Information Technology
25 SmartDrive SystemsInc n/a CA 2004 100 Business & Financial Services
28 Cheezburger n/a WA 2007 32 Consumer Services
30 Vidyo Inc n/a NJ 2005 99 Information Technology
34 Chegg Inc n/a CA 2005 211 Consumer Services


For the top ten the WSJ provides mini bios for each company (difficulty in finding a direct link so – scroll down on main article to” The Top 10 Venture-Backed Companies” picture & click on that!) . The one fun fact we sort of smiled at was Xirrus’s “The company’s conference rooms have names from Star Trek like the Holodeck, the Transporter Room and Warp Core. “ Whilst it didn’t raise a smile here we thought 10Gen Inc’s was incredibly ….. sensible “Everyone at 10gen, regardless of title, does customer support, including the CEO, CTO and engineers.”

Of our interesting additions Cheezburger generates wide public acclaim for its “fun” but we favour  Donuts Inc ( if the new gTLD’s take off so could they) RockMelt (a sort of Social Media browser {or Wowser} as they describe it),  Machinima for all you gamers, and Vidyo (not only for the name but also its enterprise video conferencing).

As ever we will leave you with a video – this go round it’s the WSJ’s, rather hesitant interviewee Emily Maltby explaining it all.

New nook HD’s available in snow and smoke at Waitrose …..

……… or in black and white at Sainsbury’s (Apologies We couldn’t resist that. Also, on the poetic licence front, smoke is closer to grey rather than black and, elsewhere, snow has been likened to ivory!)

Barnes & Noble announced their new HD & HD+ 7″ and 9″ tablet range yesterday and impressively we, in the UK can preorder them in October with availability from their expanding list of UK retailers in November. The comparable US dates are now and November 1. Prices are 7″/9″ from £159 ($199)/£215ish ($269).

B & N are bravely going head to head with Amazon‘s  Kindle Fire HD (and Google‘s Nexus 7)  and Apple‘s new iPad  (or iPad3 as they call it) and even have,  totally objective, comparisons on their US website! If you would like an independent’s initial reactions then CNET have a useful set of comparisons and opinions.

nook‘s UK website  is taking shape and their announced resellng retailers so far are Argos, Blackwell’s, Curry’s/PC World, John Lewis, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose. We’re slightly surprised that Asda isn’t included as they use Wallmart in the US. We’re disappointed that HMV’s not there as they have a very high footfall on the high street and over 230 stores and looking to concentrate increasingly on the technology device market.

Click to enlarge!

As an aside you can preview the cover of JK Rowling’s new book The Casual Vacancy on their site (and now ours). We would personally have shown this rather than Marie Claire on their UK promo shots. Initial book reviews per The Telegraph. Alternatively The Mirrors review has the first page tweeted from the Philippines we believe!





Whilst digressing we couldn’t help but notice this in B & N’s press release “For more information on NOOK, follow us on or and”.

So we’ve duly done as they requested re nook uk and are their first follower on what we can only describe as a rather embryonic account!

It’s going to be a fascinating journey for all the major tablet suppliers in a huge but increasingly crowded market. IDC recently raised its 2012 worldwide tablet forecast from 107.4 million to 117.1 which includes a little under 5 million using the windows operating system where Microsoft have yet to announce availability and pricing of their Surface tablet.

We believe that the Apple, Barnes & Noble Amazon Google and Microsoft ecosystem comparisons are at least as, if not more, important than those of the device. Or the 3 most important attributes of a tablet are content content and content!

On this front we notice that Google Play announced today (on the official android blog) its 25 billionth download. They are featuring the “25″ in various 25p (or 25 cents) app and game offers together with a slightly bizarre one on 25 banned books at 99p and, presumably, 99 cents!

We will leave you with B & N’s video – Introducing Nook HD and Nook HD+

together with CNET’s HD 7″ & HD+ 9″ videos.


nook® is a registered trademark of Barnes & Noble

Touch & Click to #SupportOurShops

As we approach the busiest three months of the year for both online and high street retailers in the UK numerous online (and offline) campaigns will be getting underway to persuade us how to make our purchases.

Domino’s Pizza Group plc today announced in a trading update their last quarters performance (pdf) and say “Online sales also continue to increase, with e-commerce accounting for 58.4% of UK delivered sales (2011: 46.5%) in the 13 week period. Total online sales for the period rose by 39.3% to £62.8m (2011: £44.8m) and have reached £184.9m for the year to date (2011: £129.9m). Within this figure, mobile sales continue to rise sharply, up by 46.9%, and now account for 18.5% of total online sales.” Overall they have about 600 shops in the UK and their total UK like for like sales increased by about 5% Ytd.

So that’s pretty clear then online sales up by around 40% Year on Year (YoY) and Year to date (Ytd) with mobile rocketing by even more at 47%.

eDigital Research an online research company also expects in the UK “96% of e-commerce shoppers will return online this Christmas”  which is hardly a staggering piece of analysis, but their other headlines are more relevant:

  • 26% believe that they will spend more online this year in the run up to Christmas
  • 41% of smartphone owners will consider making their Christmas purchases from their mobile, a number which has risen by almost 20% in just 12 months

So yet again this points the way forward with the switch to mobile again being significant.

In Morecambe the local paper The Visitor  is getting some traction from a SOS (Support our Shops) campaign with the ubibiquitous # usage so that’s #SOSMorecambe on twitter.

They’ve also come up with a pledge:

“IN our campaign #SOSMorecambe to Support Our Shops, we pledge to do the following:

*We will champion the many successful independent retail businesses throughout Morecambe and Heysham, including the West End, Westgate, Torrisholme and Bare, both old and new.

*We will lobby the local authorities and the Government for help for our local independent shops. This help may include cheaper car parking prices for shoppers and traders, and cheaper business rates.

*We will update you on the progress of the various projects going on in Morecambe to improve our town centre and shopping areas including the Portas Pilot Town scheme, the Business Improvement District (BID) and the A View For Eric project.

*We hope our campaign will encourage consumers to visit Morecambe’s array of small independent shops and discover the wide variety of businesses we have to offer, and will also encourage people to open new businesses in Morecambe.”

We think this type of campaign lends itself to a, sort of, franchise operation which could readily be rolled out throughout the UK. Set up Twitter & Facebook accounts get local retailers involved with special offers events etc etc. @SOSMorecambe seems to be available as no doubt are many of the other towns so why not?

That is basically our point high street retail will survive but it needs to adapt to and adopt from the internet.

Another useful little system which Doodle have introduced today is their  “BookMe” service aimed at SME’s  as “85% of consumers use the Internet to search for local service providers*, but they primarily book their appointments offline. BookMe will put an end to the flood of phone calls by handling the booking of appointments for hairdressers, therapists, mechanics, consultants, music teachers, sports trainers, and other small and medium service providers.” More on their Blog and well worth a look. You can even have a 30 day free trial so why not give it a shot!

As smartphones & tablets increasingly dominate our online shopping activity we all have to move away from clicking to touching which is much quieter & less harsh. So touch & collect or 1-touch order now please!

The UK’s Coolest Technology/Internet Brands

CoolBrands®  have just published their latest assessment  (2012-2013) of the Coolest UK brands.

“The UK’s CoolBrands are chosen by an Expert Council of influencers and members of the British public. Brands do not apply or pay to be considered. The entire selection process is independently administered by The Centre for Brand Analysis.”

The Results (pdf) and the Selection criteria (pdf) and some selected Brands and the Expert Council members appear on the CoolBrands site.

The Technology/Internet sector (our definition) has we think done exceptionally well achieving 5 of the top 6 places in the overall “Top 20 CoolBrands”.

  1. Apple
  2. YouTube
  3. Aston Martin
  4. Twitter
  5. Google
  6. iPlayer

Of the 54 “Category Winners” the 6 Technology/Internet sector (our definition again) winners are:

  • Games & Toys – PlayStation
  • Media (Networks, Platforms & Providers) – Google
  • Music & Movie Streaming – YouTube
  • Social Media – Twitter
  • Technology (General) – Apple
  • Technology (Communications) - Blackberry

Of the (we reckon) 570 “Qualifying CoolBrands” (from 45 Park Lane, through M.A.C  to Zumba ) we have assessed our Technology/Internet participants at 41 although we admit to possibly having missed a game or two!

These 41 include the following whose brand is their domain name (alphabetically) – CoolBrands category:

All these 54 categories got us thinking about the extent to which these already have been, or will be, disrupted.

Apple won overall & in the category Technology (General). Its competitor Qualifying CoolBrands in this category included, Canon, Kindle, Leica, Lowe, Lomography , Nikon, Olympus, Pentax, Roland,  Sony, TomTom and Toshiba.

Looking at the existing Drinks – Spirits categories there are 7 separate ones (Aperitif/Flavoured, Brandy, Gin, Rum/Cane, Tequila, Vodka & Whisky). We would hazard a guess that Diageo owns/distributes the majority of the winning brands in the UK.

In other categories:

  • Angry Birds is competing with Hamleys and the Rubik’s cube in Toys and Games.
  • Amazon competes with Berry Bros & Rudd, Jo Jo Maman Bebe  and  Smythson but they would likely be happy to compete within all of the 54 listed categories, and probably do!
  • iPlayer didn’t win the Music & Movie Streaming category because it was beaten by YouTube!

We know it’s the coolest brands which are under consideration, not the most valuable, recognised, respected or whatever but we do feel a few more categories reflecting t’internet and technology could be considered.

Then next year Apple could win in Retail (Devices), Devices (Tablets), Devices (MP3/Portable music players), Devices (Smartphones), Devices (Computers), Music Streaming etc etc etc.

This of course does not reflect our wish to have each category winners name commencing with the ubiquitous “i”!

We may, and encourage you, to give your brand inputs to CoolBrands as we believe they are welcome!

CoolBrands® is a registered trademark of Superbrands (UK) Ltd

What’s a brands Digital IQ?

L2  “A think tank for digital innovation” who “… bring together thought leaders from industry + academia to help brands navigate the changing digital landscape” have come up with, we think, an impressive and innovative methodology for the digital assessment  of brands.

In our words they calculate a brand’s digital IQ based on differing weightings of the effectiveness, efforts presence and optimisation of their digital activities. In their latest 2012 Digital IQ Index ® : Sportswear, they have Site (35%) Digital Marketing (25%) Social Media (20%) and Mobile (20%).

For ease they calibrate the IQ’s into ranges as per our graphic of Genius, Gifted, Average, Challenged and Feeble. Their assessment, as far as we can see, have not yet at least included Apple so we won’t know if they qualify for a Genius rating!

They did at the end of last year compile a European Specialty Retailer Index and we are pleased to report that the15 UK retailers had the highest average IQ at 112, so we are Gifted! Spain’s 6 were Average, France’s 24 and 5 Others in Germany, Sweden and Switzerland together with Italy’s 5 were all Challenged!

The top 5 UK retailers (of the 15) on the digital front & their respective IQ’s were:

  1. asos / 156
  2. NET-A-PORTER / 148
  3. Marks & Spencer / 130
  4. House of Fraser / 120
  5. Harrods / 119

Whilst we have not done a 100% review of the available information on their rankings one of the highest scores we have encountered was 164 for LVMH’s Sephora   in a Mobile IQ ranking back in January this year (as opposed to the wider digital ones referred to above).

They even attempted “to quantify the Facebook competence of 100 iconic brands across Beauty, Fashion, Specialty Retail, and Watches & Jewelry” in June. Macy’s  won out on that with Sephora in second place.

A different approach and despite us having some reservations on the range names we like the approach. The website & their reports are definitely worth a look.

Incidentally unsurprisingly Nike won out on their just released report on Sportswear brands with an IQ of 148 Adidas were second

Here’s how L2 describe their mission and methodology.

Digital IQ Index® is a registered trademark of L2.

Keep an I on our Week (It’s here & We did it edition)

. . . . . . . . . . . and it's only a click away!


The top three articles this week were:

  1. Unbelievable Internet Retail Sales in August 
  2. Can Cloud Player Match iTunes in the Cloud?
  3. Tablet Tales


It’s going to be the iPhone 5’s weekend with  around 8 million handsets being sold by Monday. UPDATE – #Itshere (on Twitter at least) can apply to many situations including the fact that it’s also the first day of Autumn / the Fall!

It’s been  SmartThings week (they raised just over $1.2 million from backers and are one of only 12 such projects raising over $1 million on Kickstarter

They have been causing some mayhem with a helicopter!

Allegedly this video records the first iPhone 5 sale and has a guest appearance by Apple founder Steve Wozniak.

Unbelievable Internet GB retail sales in August

Yesterday was the third Thursday of the month so The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the monthly retail sales figures for August (pdf) We’ve cut it down to exclude the 88 pages of tables. The full version is on the ONS site.

Our Internet sales headlines:

Click to enlarge

  • We find the figures difficult to understand/believe as it appears that the major online only retailers (as detailed yesterday)  ie eBay, Amazon (including LoveFilm), Asos, Netflix and Shop Direct (Very, Littlewoods etc) plus others showed virtually no growth year on year (1%) when they have averaged over 20% since the statistics were first compiled as shown in the above graph.
  • The ONS blame the Olympics but if as they say there is “a seasonal pattern” then we would encourage them to report it on a regular monthly basis as they do with non internet sales. We calculate that this Augusts sales represent 6.8% of the last years against an average since the statistics were compiled of 7.7%. That is statistically significant!
  • We think this is a one off statistical quirk for whatever reason and will be eliminated/forgotten in the next few months.
  • If Apple’s iPhone 5 introduction can add  between 0.25% to 0.5% to the USA’s GDP in quarter 4 then we think Apple & Amazon (with their Kindle Fire introduction in the UK) can do wonders for our internet retail sales in the coming months!

August increases:

  • Year on year +7.5%.(+19.4%) so growth is shown as collapsing after July revision up by 5.7% from 13.7%
  • Year to date August 2012/2011 + 16.8% (18.1%) a significant reduction in the growth rate again on a small upward revision (+0.3%) to July’s figures.
  • Moving Annual total increases (1) on July 2012 annualised + 5.7% (2) on August 2011 +16.6%
  • The UK’s *largest online retailer is included in the group (Non-store retailing) showing just 1.3% growth on 2011 and contributing only 0.4% to the overall growth of 7.5% (This is an area which is likely to just grow & grow unless further meaningful analysis is undertaken by the ONS)

As always the “history” has been revised by the ONS which this month went back as far as October 2011 with reductions to all sales and increases in internet sales in particular resulting in an increase in last months  headline %  from 8.5% to 9%.

The ONS words (and graphic) are:

Internet Sales

Key points

The proportion of Internet sales decreased by 0.9 per cent between July and August 2012. Compared with a year ago, the proportion of Internet sales in August 2012 increased by 0.3 per cent. In August 2012 the estimated average weekly spend online was £466.1 million.

At a Glance

In August 2012, Internet sales (online sales for all retailers) were estimated to be 8.1 per cent of all retail sales (excluding automotive fuel). This is a fall from 9.0 per cent in July 2012 and the lowest proportion since August 2011 (7.8 per cent).

Figure 1, Internet Sales as a proportion of all retailing

Internet sales as a proportion of all retail sales have previously shown a seasonal pattern with the highest proportion of Internet sales in the November of each year. In previous years the lowest proportion of Internet sales has tended to fall in the second quarter of the calendar year (April, May, June). The proportion of Internet sales in August 2012 was estimated however to be lower than the second quarter of 2012. Feedback from online retailers suggests that sales were lower as consumers watched the Olympics instead of shopping online.

 Internet sales in detail

Internet sales measure how much was spent online through retailers in Great Britain. Figures are non-seasonally adjusted and the reference year is 2010=100. Table 3 shows the year-on-year growth rates for total Internet sales, by sector and the contribution that each sector makes to total Internet sales.

Table 3, Internet sales summary of performance for August 2012

Category Weight Year on year Contribution
(YoY) growth to YoY growth
All retailing  100.0 7.5%
(a) All food 17.3 20.7% 3.3%
(b) All non-food 41.4 9.8% 3.8%
 Department stores 7.0 -21.2% 1.4%
Textile clothing & footwear stores 11.7 9.4% 1.0%
 Household goods stores 8.2 5.2% 4.0%
 Other stores 14.5 6.9% 1.0%
(c) Non store retailing 41.3 1.3% 0.4%

We have added our annotations to the ONS table) – The bold categories/ figures in the table are the primary constituents of the total (ie (a) + (b) + (c) = All retailing). Dept. stores, Textile etc, Household etc and Other stores are simply an analysis of (b) All non-food.

* Whilst the ONS will not confirm the names of specific retailers within categories they did say that retailers selling wholly online with no physical outlets would be included in the Non store retailing category along with eg online  mail order retailers.

As previously mentioned the figures are no longer experimental.

Click to enlarge

The moving annual total, which we report, moved up again (it has increased EVERY MONTH since October 2007 being the first full year of reporting by the ONS) to an all time high of £27.6bn an increase in the month (adjusted re restatements and revisions) of 0.48% annualised 5.7%. This is the lowest increase since the statistic has been published and well below the long term compound average growth rate (from 2007) of 25.8%.

Click to enlarge

The published figures at £466.1million were well below (9.6%) our last months weekly forecast of £510 million.  We were spot on the annual figures at £27.6 billion due to the large July revision! This month we confidently forecast that next months figures will contain revisions but we do expect a return to longer term growth figures and hence forecast weekly and annual figures of  £540 million and £28 billion! This of course includes the first monthly recorded sales of the iPhone 5 and the introduction of Kindle Fire tablets in the UK!

We have again included our experimental graph (e & o e!) showing the relative internet and non-internet, moving annual total, sales from late 2007 by month. As before it highlights that high street sales have been and continue to go nowhere! As, we have mentioned before, the Boston Consulting Group forecast  in their report (The $4.2 Trillion opportunity) that this trend is likely to continue with the high streets market share contracting at around 2.75% a year from 2010 through 2016.

Further details and explanations are either in the ONS release on the statistics or on their website. As previously mentioned a retail convention of a 4, 4, 5 week quarter is used by the ONS. To cater for the inconvenience of years not having 364 days every 6 years or so an extra week is included in the statistics. The ONS adds this in January.

Brick & Mortar, Click & Order, which UK retailers are winning online footfall?

Using data from their Mobile Metrix 2 service comScore   have just released, their study of US smartphone shopping behaviour.

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“The study found that 4 in every 5 smartphone users – 85.9 million in total – accessed retail content on their device in July. Amazon Sites led as the top retailer with an audience of 49.6 million visitors, while multi-channel retailers including Apple (17.7 million visitors), Wal-Mart (16.3 million visitors), Target (10 million visitors) and Best Buy (7.2 million visitors) also attracted significant mobile audiences.”

Having had a quick look at the Alexa 3 month internet traffic rankings for the 15 listed US retailers there appears to be virtually a direct correlation on the top 6. This sort of implies that smartphone usage reflects all device usage which is not, in our view completely unrealistic.

We were slightly surprised not to find Netflix in the top 15 retailers listed by comScore as we think they are a content online retailer.

Of the US retailers possibly CVS (the second largest US pharmacy after Walgreen) and Limited Brands (six of them with the most well known being Victoria’s Secret!) may be less familiar to our UK visitors. Etsy is also an interesting phenomena.

Using Alexa’s UK rankings we have come up with a provisional list of the, effectively, most visited UK retailers online channels. We’ve included Netflix and attributed Love Film to Amazon’s stable. We also have included Gumtree with its owner eBay. Where there are several brands we’ve added reach statistics to calculate their position.

Click to enlarge

It’s a bit of a snapshot but we may produce the list on a quarterly basis to monitor the changes.

Our UK study found that over the last quarter online giants eBay and Amazon sites held the #1 and 2 positions. Of the top 20  retailers there was a 70/30 split between multi-channel and solely online retailers. 65% of the retailers are UK based organisations led by the Home Retail Group.

Can Cloud Player Match ITunes in the Cloud?

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Amazon have just announced, the availability in the UK, France and Germany of their digital music collection management system Cloud Player.

Jeff Bezos has written one of his letters again! “Get started” here

From our initial travels around the product:

  • It’s available for iOS android and Windows operating systems and on up to 10 devices. Cost wise its free for up to 250 tracks (plus any MP3 purchases from amazon) and then £21.99 a year for up to 250,000 tracks for their premium service. The £21.99 coincidentally is the same as Apple’s iTunes Match  annual fee, but this seems to be limited to 25,000 tracks!
  • Storage is in the cloud and from amazon’s library of 20 million tracks (as with iTunes and likely other such systems it replaces your tracks with its own, unless yours are not in their library in which case they get adopted).
  • You can stream or download to your devices the music on an as required basis.
  • Audio quality indicated is 256 kbps

There’s a, sort of, UK dubbed video available (& French),  but we have been unable so far to track down a downloadable version so heres the US equivalent (ignore the words about videos files pictures etc at the end as these are NOT available as part of the UK Cloud Player service). Use our or your links to reach rather than the .com site in this video.


CNET have this overview of the US system  which is quite positive (again ignore the non music comments).

We think that choice will largely be dependent on which eco system you currently enjoy. If its Apple iDevices and operating systems we would be surprised to see many people switching to Cloud Player (unless of course they have a small collection, < 250 tracks, and simply want to use it as a free backup facility). Another consideration is the major iTunes upgrade Apple announced earlier this month iTunes 11  which is due to arrive in October.

Kindle Fire tablets haven’t yet arrived and this introduction by Amazon obviously is a partial precursor to that later this year.

If you are an other than Apple ecosystem individual or, as is more likely, of the mixed systems persuasion, then this is, we would have thought, worth at least a trial.

We will likely go down this route as we have iTunes on PC, although we may have to invest in an iPod touch! At a trivial level we also rather like the iTunes cover flow!

We would be interested in / value your experiences good, bad, or indifferent!

As you can tell we are an Amazon Associate! In conjunction with the Cloud Players introduction they have a single album offer (choose one from 622 in their Essentials Artists under £4 collection)  for 99p. (Use the code CLOUD99P) There’s a fairly wide selection varying from Ella Fitzgerald through The Spice Girls to Katy Perry.

As Jeff Bezos says “Enjoy and happy listening”!