iTunes Festival 2011: What have Apple got left to gain?

What two things do Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Foo Fighters, Coldplay and My Chemical Romance all have in common?

Time’s up. The answer is, they are all headlining major UK music festivals this summer and they are all due to play the ridiculously star-studded iTunes Festival next month.

itunes festival 2011 logo

While the iTunes fest has hardly ever been a humble affair (Amy Winehouse and Paul McCartney played in its inaugural year), this year’s line-up is a who’s who of the most popular bands touring in 2011.

Adele, Paul Simon, Linkin Park – it’s like an arms race to outdo all the other festivals and, most ridiculously of all, the whole thing is free.

Not one fan will pay not one penny to see all 62 bands playing for a whole month.

It would be beyond churlish of me to suggest that this is a bad thing, although with the heightened profile of the festival (ITV2 coverage every week etc. etc.), and only 4,000 tickets available each night, it will surely become more and more unlikely to actually win any tickets.

At first, it was clear to see what was in it for Apple. They get their name out there in a massive way, they associate their brand with the biggest and best bands, and each punter is given a lanyard enticing them to download iTunes in exchange for 10 free tracks. But how much longer can they justify laying on such a lavish festival?

Is this year’s line-up a final hurrah? Or will they be back next year with Prince, U2, David Bowie and the Beatles (wouldn’t bet against it!)? Fair play to them for finding space for a few more obscure acts, like Raphael Saadiq, Lang Lang and Swedish House Mafia, but one thing’s for sure – festival organisers up and down the land will be grinding their teeth with envy at this year’s stellar line-up:

July 1st – Paul Simon

July 2nd – Seasick Steve

July 3rd – Manic Street Preachers + Dry the River

July 4th – Linkin Park + Neon Trees

July 5th – Beady Eye

July 6th – Arctic Monkeys + Miles Kane

July 7th – Adele

July 8th – Bruno Mars + Ed Sheeran

July 9th – My Chemical Romance

July 10th – Glasvegas

July 11th – Foo Fighters + Jimmy Eat World

July 12th – The Script + Loick Essien

July 13th – White Lies + The Naked and Famous + Alice Gold

July 15th – Friendly Fires + SBTRKT

July 16th – Jessie J

July 17th – Duran Duran + Ben L’Oncle Soul

July 18th – Raphael Saadiq

July 19th – Rumer + Caitlin Rose

July 20th – Katy B + Jamie Woon

July 21st – The Wanted

July 22nd – Swedish House Mafia

July 23rd – Coldplay

July 24th – Mogwai + Errors

July 25th – Noah & The Whale + Fixers

July 26th – Lang Lang + 2CELLOS

July 27th – Magnetic Man + Alex Clare

July 28th – Chase & Status + Nero

July 29th – Kasabian

July 30th – James Morrison

July 31st – Moby

To throw your hat in the ring for any of these gigs, just head over to the iTunes Festival website. I’ve entered for the past two years and each time I’ve won at least one pair of tickets. Not sure I fancy my chances this year though…

RIP The Floppy Disk: 1971-2011

Just when you thought 2010 was filled with enough completely useless things (the iPad, the Northern Line, Gordon Brown), Sony has decided enough is enough and decided to scrap producing floppy disks.

Darth Vader chops a floppy disk in half
Darth doesn't go for retro storage solutions (flickr user: nhussein)

According to the BBC, Sony still manufacture them and ship them by their millions. The rest of the market has long since gone off the floppy, with Apple abandoning them in 1998 and Dell following suit in 2003. Despite this, Sony’s decision will not come into effect until March next year.

But who is it that’s still using them? My laptop can’t read one, and I can’t remember the last scenario in which I needed less than 1.44MB of storage space.

I can remember my first use of a floppy disk though, with much fondness. My brother returned from university for the summer in 1995, with a pirated copy of Championship Manager 1994/95 (Italia edition), which was spread over four separate disks. So retro is this game that I can’t even find it on eBay!

Disks have long since passed into retro chic; these earrings would hardly look out of place in Hoxton, or on the set of Nathan Barley. However, it’s hard to imagine floppies garnering the same kind of fond nostalgia as music geeks reserve for vinyl. Perhaps it’s because techie geeks are so innately addicted to the new, whereas musos tend to live in the past. Nonetheless, I’d be interested to hear your recollections – when is the last/first time you used a floppy disk? Will you be at all sad to see them go?