Robert Cookson

Taylor Swift clearly touched a nerve at Spotify last week when she pulled all of her music from the streaming service.

Daniel Ek, Spotify’s chief executive, has responded to her move by publishing a 1,800 word essay that defends the company’s business model and reveals some fascinating numbers about its growth. Read more

Robert Cookson

The Economist, the 171-year-old weekly magazine, is launching its first daily edition.

The new product, called The Economist Espresso, will be available from Friday via smartphone apps and email. It takes the form of a daily briefing that is designed to be read in a few minutes each morning, and is part of a drive to expand The Economist’s digital audience following the first circulation decline in more than a decade. Read more

Robert Cookson

The New York Times Company and Axel Springer are hoping that a little-known Dutch start-up called Blendle may hold the key to making money from news online.

The two media groups have paid a combined €3m to acquire a 23 per cent stake in Blendle, which was founded last year and styles itself as the “iTunes for journalism”.

Blendle was launched in the Netherlands in April and sells individual articles from a number of newspapers and magazines to internet users through its website and app. On average an article costs 20 cents. The pricing per article is set by the publishers and revenues are split 70:30 between the publisher and Blendle. If a reader doesn’t like an article, they can ask for a refund. Read more

Robert Cookson

Facebook has created a new “missed call” product for advertisers in India, marking the first time that the social network has designed a special ad format for a single country.

When a mobile phone user clicks on one of the ads, it calls the advertiser and immediately hangs up. The advertiser returns the call with pre-recorded entertainment content and a marketing message – enabling the consumer to avoid paying data charges.

Facebook’s creation of a special ad product in India, where the company has more than 100m users, is part of a broader push to develop customised solutions across emerging marketsRead more

Robert Cookson

Google has fired off a new salvo in its campaign to convince the world that Glass is cool rather than creepy.

A month after telling early adopters of the wearable technology how to avoid becoming a “Glasshole”, Google is now attempting to win over the public with a Buzzfeed-style list of “The Top 10 Google Glass Myths”. Read more

Robert Cookson

Big media companies owned by profit-hungry private equity groups don’t normally give their core products away for free.

But Getty Images, which was acquired for $3.3bn by Carlyle in 2012, is doing just that. The world’s largest supplier of stock photos has made more than 30m images available to people to share for free on their blogs and social media sites, including tumblr, WordPress and Twitter.

This is not charity, however. Behind the move lies cold commercial logic. It’s all about data, control and advertising. Read more

Robert Cookson

Technological utopians have been predicting for years that the internet will weaken the dominance of superstar artists in the music industry and enrich the teeming masses of smaller, niche creators.

But new research suggests that this “long tail” theory is wrong: superstars are capturing the vast majority of music revenues and their share is increasing – not decreasing – because of the rise of digital services like iTunes and Spotify.

The top 1 per cent of artists – the likes of Rihanna and Adele – accounted for a whopping 77 per cent of recorded music income in 2013, according to research by Mark Mulligan of Midia Consulting. Read more

Robert Cookson

For a company that distributes content to more than 390m web users each month, Outbrain has so far maintained a relatively low profile outside the worlds of online publishing and marketing.

But the fast-growing Israeli start-up is attracting an increasing amount of attention, having installed its content recommendation engine on more than 100,000 websites including 700 “premium publishers” such as The Independent, CNN and Rolling Stone. It is reported to be gearing up for an IPO that could value the company at $1bnRead more

Robert Cookson

Criteo has started delivering personalised advertising within mobile apps, a big shift for the $2bn technology group that built its business on targeting ads within web browsers on desktops.

The Nasdaq-listed company is one of many ad tech groups rushing to bring techniques that are common on the web to the nascent but fast-growing market for targeted, real-time advertising in apps. Read more

Robert Cookson

A National Security Agency employee who co-chairs an influential cryptography standards group has survived an attempt to oust him following accusations that he promoted a flawed security protocol.

Kevin Igoe, a senior cryptographer at the NSA, is joint chair of the Crypto Forum Research Group. The CFRG plays an important role in online security because it provides guidance on cryptographic techniques to the Internet Engineering Task Force, a standard-setting body that helps shape the internetRead more

Robert Cookson

Endemol, the television production company behind Big Brother and Deal or No Deal, has placed a bet on the growth of social casino gaming with the acquisition of a $13m stake in London-based startup Plumbee.

The deal, which values Plumbee at $40m, brings together the world’s largest independent TV production company with a two-year-old startup whose flagship title Mirrorball Slots is among the top ten highest grossing social casino games on Facebook. Read more

Robert Cookson

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the world wide web, has thrown his weight behind a new campaign to encourage people across the world to fight back against online censorship and surveillance.

In a letter to the Financial Times on Thursday, Sir Tim wrote that “now is the time for citizens to mobilise to demand that governments and companies respect and protect our basic freedoms online”. Read more

Robert Cookson

If any single piece of technology underpins the $100bn global online advertising market, it is the cookie.

So news that Google plans to ditch cookies and replace them with its own tracking solution has big implications for advertising technology companies and the venture capital funds that have poured billions of dollars into the sector in recent years.

Rocket Fuel, a real-time ad-buying platform that went public in the US this week, and Criteo, a French ad tech company that this week filed for an IPO on Nasdaq, have both warned about the reliance of their businesses on cookies. Read more

Robert Cookson

A disgruntled British Airways passenger has bought adverts on Twitter to complain about the airline’s customer service, in an unusual reversal of the way that big brands use social media.

Hasan Syed, a businessman who goes by the Twitter username @HVSVN, took the action on Monday out of frustration with the way that British Airways was handling his father’s lost luggage. Read more

Robert Cookson

It’s personal, attention-grabbing, and highly effective: email is one of the most important ways that companies market their products to the masses.

So no wonder that email marketers are concerned that Google has redesigned Gmail in a way that filters deals, offers and promotional messages into a less prominent part of the inbox.

How worried should marketers be? To answer the question, FT Tech Blog has rustled up some striking data about how Gmail users are behaving following the changes. Read more

Robert Cookson

German publishers just can’t seem to make their minds up about Google.

Publishers such as Axel Springer pushed hard this year for a new law that only allows Google to include snippets of their articles in Google News if they have explicitly opted in to the service.

That law was introduced today – but nothing has changed. Rather than withholding their content, Germany’s top publishers have given Google News permission to continue as before. Read more

Robert Cookson

As apps go, Ant Smasher sounds simple enough. The free game, which has been downloaded more than 50m times from the Google Play app store, allows mobile phone users to entertain themselves by squishing digital ants as they scurry down the screen. Splat, splat, splat.

But Ant Smasher has a dark side. It is one of a growing wave of apps that contains “adware” – aggressive advertising technology that displays ads in a phone’s notification bar and other places outside of the app itself, without consent. Read more

Robert Cookson

What does Bitcoin have in common with 3D printing, besides both being technologies loved by geeks? On the face of it, not much: one is a digital currency and the other allows you to reproduce almost any small, solid object in the world.

But as lawmakers are starting to realise, there is a key similarity: both Bitcoin and 3D printing have the potential to reduce the power of the state and put it into the hands of individuals. Read more

Robert Cookson

Duedil, a start-up that provides information on every private company in the UK, has raised $5m in funding ahead of an expansion into more than a dozen countries across Europe.

The London-based company takes data from public and private databases and links it together to provide users with insights that would otherwise have been impossible to obtain. Read more

Robert Cookson

Ford and WPP have apologised for tasteless ads showing scantily-clad women bound and gagged in the back of a car.

While the images were never published as part of an official campaign, someone at JWT India, Ford’s agency in the country, uploaded them to the sharing site Ads of the World. Read more