Tech bytes

Spotify now has 75 million users

A day after Apple announced its music-streaming service, Spotify revealed that it now has 75 million active users, including 20 million on paid subscriptions.

Spotify had claimed it had 60 million active users and 15 million paying subscribers in January, and said it paid more than US$300 million (S$404 million) in royalties to artists and songwriters in the first quarter.

Spotify recently raised US$526 million in new funding from Goldman Sachs and other investors. It is now valued at US$8.5 billion.

BlackBerry to launch Android phone

BlackBerry is preparing to launch an Android phone with a hardware keyboard, according to Reuters.

The report said that this Android phone, which will have curved edges and a slide-out keyboard, made a brief appearance at this year's Mobile World Congress. BlackBerry's market share has shrunk to less than 1 per cent.

Twitter boss steps down

Chief executive Dick Costolo will step down on July 1. Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey will take over as interim chief executive officer while the social media firm looks for a permanent successor.

The news sent Twitter shares up more than 7 per cent in trading, but its shares are still trading below their 2013 debut price. Mr Costolo has helmed Twitter for the last five years, but has been under scrutiny from Wall Street over sluggish growth (see page 14).

Oculus VR headset on sale next year

Oculus has finally revealed a consumer version of its Rift virtual reality headset, three years after unveiling its first prototype. It will be available in the first quarter of next year.

The final version has two Oled screens and integrated headphones. The headset can be worn over prescription glasses. When it is launched, each headset will ship with an Xbox One controller and adaptor. Oculus is also working on its own motion controller, called Oculus Touch.

Amazon's e-book deals under probe

The European Commission has formally launched an anti-trust investigation into Amazon's e-book business. Regulators are concerned that certain clauses in Amazon's e-book distribution agreements make it harder for other e-book sellers to compete with Amazon.

The retailer is already being investigated for the low tax rates it pays in Luxembourg. Amazon says it is confident that its deals with publishers are legal and "will cooperate fully" with the investigation.

Firm to send Net signals from space

Rocket company SpaceX has asked the United States government for permission to test a plan to beam high-speed Internet signals from space using 4,000 small satellites.

SpaceX, founded by entrepreneur and Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk, proposes to start tests next year to find out if the satellites' antennas can send high-speed Internet services to locations on the ground. The satellites will be deployed by SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket.

If all goes well, SpaceX wants to get the service up within five years.

Compiled by Vincent Chang