Amazon Declares Prime Day Success in Sales, New Members

Amazon reports that Prime Day sales exceeded those on Black Friday 2014, the biggest Black Friday to date. Although many consumers mocked Prime Day online and in tweets, the sales event succeeded at drawing in more new members to the Amazon Prime subscription service that day than any other day in Amazon history, prompting Amazon to declare Prime Day an annual event. Walmart, which held its own online sales event to compete with Amazon, also declared a day of record-breaking online traffic and sales. Continue reading Amazon Declares Prime Day Success in Sales, New Members

TV Academy to Distribute Chromecast Devices to Emmy Voters

With the aim of enhancing the viewing experience of this year’s Emmy-nominated content, the Television Academy inked a deal with Google to distribute Chromecast devices to all of the Academy’s eligible voting members. This new initiative also prompts a rule change, enabling voting members to vote for all major program categories as well as those professional categories pertinent to their expertise. In addition to widening the voting, the new rule means an end to the Academy’s “blue ribbon” panels. Continue reading TV Academy to Distribute Chromecast Devices to Emmy Voters

Wi-Fi Alliance Debuts Wi-Fi Aware for Quick Device Connection

After three years of research and development, the Wi-Fi Alliance released Wi-Fi Aware, which instantly connects Wi-Fi-enabled products with devices, applications or information without an Internet connection or mobile data. Wi-Fi Aware software works continuously in the background, sending out short messages that dramatically lessen power consumption. With a Wi-Fi Aware smartphone, a user could find nearby services, videogame players or anyone from a high school friend to a business colleague. Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Debuts Wi-Fi Aware for Quick Device Connection

New Emergency Patches for Flash Steps Up Calls for Its Demise

To patch two critical zero-day vulnerabilities, Adobe Systems issued an emergency update for its Flash media player. That’s in addition to a previously unknown vulnerability discovered over a week ago in a 400-gigabyte data dump published after hackers rooted the servers of Hacking Team. That bug allowed hackers to covertly install malware on end-user computers. Mozilla now blocks the hacker-susceptible Flash, and several industry leaders are calling for Adobe to pull the plug on the bug-infested media player. Continue reading New Emergency Patches for Flash Steps Up Calls for Its Demise

ATSC 3.0 Field Tests Move Next-Gen TV Broadcasts Forward

Cleveland’s Fox affiliate WJW-TV is engaged in new field tests for ATSC 3.0, under an experimental broadcast license from the FCC. The station, owned by Tribune Broadcasting, is providing a TV transmitter, tower and 6-MHz channel for tests that began in May and are conducted by LG Electronics, its Zenith R&D Lab and GatesAir. Dubbed Futurecast, the core technologies are being tested for the baseline Physical Layer transmission system, which will achieve ATSC Candidate Standard status this summer. Continue reading ATSC 3.0 Field Tests Move Next-Gen TV Broadcasts Forward

Sony Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Employee Projects

Sony launched First Flight, a crowdfunding platform/online store for its employees’ projects seeking outside funding. In the company’s Creative Lounge, employees and outsiders can develop pitches and construct prototype products. Some of these nascent projects have been presented to senior Sony executives, and Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai has given the Seed Acceleration Project (SAP) a relatively large amount of autonomy. Among the more developed products is the HUIS programmable universal remote. Continue reading Sony Launches Crowdfunding Platform for Employee Projects

Authors and Booksellers Accuse Amazon of Antitrust Violations

A group of authors, their representatives and booksellers have banded together to ask the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Amazon for antitrust violations. The move by authors and booksellers comes on the heels of an ugly contract dispute, during which Amazon made it difficult to buy books from publisher Hachette. Five years ago, Amazon secretly asked regulators to examine the practices of leading publishers, a move that ultimately gave the e-commerce company more influence. Continue reading Authors and Booksellers Accuse Amazon of Antitrust Violations

VR Experts Look at Crowdsourced Ratings to Improve Content

Virtual reality stakeholders debating ways to move content into the mainstream are looking at crowdsourced ratings to help improve quality control. Although content is improving in this nascent genre, one bad VR experience can turn off a first-time user to subsequent tries. This, and the need to get a quantifiable number of headsets into the marketplace were identified as chief impediments to VR achieving more widespread acceptance, concluded participants at the first SoCal Virtual Reality Conference and Expo at UC Irvine. Continue reading VR Experts Look at Crowdsourced Ratings to Improve Content

SoundCloud Signs Warner, Grows Mix of Music and Social Media

SoundCloud, which has mixed music and community for eight years, now boasts 150 million registered users who have uploaded over 100 million tracks and clips. Such artists as Prince, Snoop Dogg, Beyoncé and Drake have used the platform to release special tracks, remixes and promos. But as SoundCloud transitions from a free service with unlicensed content to one that licenses content and shares revenue, it teeters between two different creative models and the potential of a major breakthrough or bust. Continue reading SoundCloud Signs Warner, Grows Mix of Music and Social Media

New Reddit CEO Faces Angry Site Users and Low Staff Morale

In the wake of Ellen Pao’s resignation as Reddit’s interim chief executive, co-founder Steve Huffman was brought in by the company’s board to take her place. Pao left after eight months in the wake of a mishandled firing of a popular employee, which triggered protests by hundreds of thousands of the site’s 160 million monthly visitors. Since Huffman left the day-to-day operations of Reddit in 2009, three years after its sale to Advance Publications, he founded online travel site Hipmunk where he will remain as CTO. Continue reading New Reddit CEO Faces Angry Site Users and Low Staff Morale

Global PC Sales Experience Sharp Q2 Decline, Excluding Apple

Data from two research firms reveal sharp declines in worldwide PC sales in the second quarter of 2015. According to Gartner, PC shipments fell 9.5 percent, year on year, to 68.4 million units. IDC reports an 11.8 percent drop to 66.1 million shipments during the quarter. The reports do not include tablets in their tallies. The world’s top PC vendor is still Lenovo, which enjoys a 20.3 percent share, notes IDC, followed by HP at 18.5 percent and Dell at 14.55 percent. Most hard hit by the decline are smaller PC manufacturers. Continue reading Global PC Sales Experience Sharp Q2 Decline, Excluding Apple

Facebook Looking to Expand Media Offerings with Music Videos

Facebook has turned its attention to music videos in its latest move to offer more video content to its users. The social media company began moving into video in the last few years, now showing content from BuzzFeed, Vice and other publishers, in addition to its user-generated content. Music videos would continue the trend and up the competition between Facebook and YouTube. Facebook currently has 1.4 billion worldwide users, and adding video is likely to extend the time that viewers stay on the site. Continue reading Facebook Looking to Expand Media Offerings with Music Videos

Quip Launches New Desktop Version of its Productivity Software

Quip, a company founded by Google vets Bret Taylor and Kevin Gibbs, recently released its mobile creation and collaboration tool for desktop computers. The toolset enables users to connect desktops and mobile devices to the cloud for a version of distributed computing, usually the purview of large data centers. Part of an emerging trend to use as much computing as possible, Quip’s solution has similarities to Amazon’s Silk browser in the Kindle, which has features of local and cloud computing. Continue reading Quip Launches New Desktop Version of its Productivity Software

Paramount Shortens Release Date from Movie Theater to DVD

Paramount Pictures has inked a deal with two major theater chains to release two upcoming films on DVD just two weeks after they leave theaters, a significant change to the traditional schedule. Since the 1980s, and the advent of the VCR, studios have waited at least 90 days, so this new deal marks a real break with the status quo. The Viacom-owned movie studio has partnered with AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. and Canada’s Cineplex Inc., two of North America’s largest exhibitors. Continue reading Paramount Shortens Release Date from Movie Theater to DVD

VideoStitch Raises $2.25 Million for Live 360-Degree VR Feed

French startup VideoStitch has the ability to output a live 360-degree feed, using multiple action cameras, making it ideal for virtual reality. The video-stitching solution attracted the attention, and $2.25 million, from Alven Capital. VideoStitch’s software can also be used to output 3D videos as well as a simple stitching solution for video feeds. The software supports any 360-degree camera configuration, is scalable and allows processing across multiple GPUs for real-time results. Continue reading VideoStitch Raises $2.25 Million for Live 360-Degree VR Feed