Apple Quietly Acquires Startup BookLamp: Pandora for Books

Over the weekend news broke that Apple has acquired BookLamp to expand its ebook offerings and better compete with Amazon. The Boise, Idaho-based startup is best known for developing big data-style book analytics services, which could be used by Apple for new iBooks features. BookLamp’s e-reading recommendation service is sometimes referred to as the “Pandora for books.” According to one source, Apple is paying more than $10 million for the startup’s tech and employees. Continue reading Apple Quietly Acquires Startup BookLamp: Pandora for Books

Congress Passes Bill That Makes it Legal to Unlock Cellphones

The House of Representatives passed a bill on Friday that would allow consumers to open the digital locks on their cellphones, legislation that was already passed by the Senate. Unlocking mobile phones makes it easier to switch wireless carriers. Under current copyright law, however, consumers risk jail time and fines up to $500,000 for unlocking their phones without carrier permission. Such restrictions have proven unpopular with the public and last year a petition called for government action. Continue reading Congress Passes Bill That Makes it Legal to Unlock Cellphones

Google to Purchase Live Game Streamer Twitch for $1 Billion

Google has signed a $1 billion deal to acquire popular streaming platform Twitch.tv, according to sources familiar with the matter. Google’s YouTube division is in charge of the deal, which reflects the popularity of live Internet streaming and, in particular, the rapidly evolving interest in competitive gaming as a spectator sport. San Francisco-based Twitch currently touts more than 50 million monthly users. In addition, more than 1.1 million of its members broadcast videos each month. Continue reading Google to Purchase Live Game Streamer Twitch for $1 Billion

Netflix Reports Strong Q2 Earnings, Unveils International Plans

Netflix reported second quarter earnings higher than analysts’ estimates, and announced that original series “Orange Is the New Black” helped lift its number of subscribers past 50 million. Net income more than doubled to $71 million, while sales grew 25 percent. Netflix added 570,000 domestic streaming customers, bringing its U.S. total to 36.2 million. During the quarter, the company raised fees $1 to $2 a month for new customers of its online service to help finance original content. Continue reading Netflix Reports Strong Q2 Earnings, Unveils International Plans

Yahoo Targets Mobile Advertising Market with Flurry Purchase

Yahoo is purchasing mobile app analytics firm Flurry, a company that collects data from some 540,000 apps to help marketers identify which mobile ads work the best for Android and iPhone users. While financial specifics have not been released, insiders suggest the deal is valued at more than $200 million, one of the largest under CEO Marissa Mayer. The acquisition is another step by Mayer to pursue mobile advertising revenue, a market largely dominated by Google and Facebook. Continue reading Yahoo Targets Mobile Advertising Market with Flurry Purchase

Samsung Takes Orders on $120K 105-Inch Curved Ultra HD TV

Samsung Electronics America announced that it is now taking orders on its 105-inch curved Ultra HD LED LCD TV, which offers 5,120 x 2,160 resolution (11 million pixels) and features a cinematic aspect ratio. The massive curved set will be built to order for a suggested retail price of $119,999. Each sale will be supported by Samsung Elite Service, which includes field engineers being dispatched to customers’ homes to explain features and configure the TV for an optimal viewing experience. Continue reading Samsung Takes Orders on $120K 105-Inch Curved Ultra HD TV

Apple: Strong iPhone and Declining iPad Sales, iWatch Rumors

As Apple gears up for the launch of its iPhone 6, with an anticipated initial run of 80 million units, the company has reported a 12.7 percent profit growth for its current model. However, the company also noted that iPad sales fell for the second straight quarter, with unit sales falling 9.2 percent after a 16 percent drop the previous quarter. With a significant jump in iPhone sales internationally, and a move toward bigger-screen models, some are questioning the future of Apple’s tablet. Continue reading Apple: Strong iPhone and Declining iPad Sales, iWatch Rumors

Consumers Spending 31 Percent More Time with Mobile Apps

According to new data from Nielsen, the amount of time consumers are spending on apps has reached an all-time high. The report indicates that Android and iPhone users in the U.S. age 18+ spend 65 percent more time (in excess of 30 hours each month) using apps than they did two years ago. However, the average number of apps used per month only increased from 23.2 in Q4 2011 to 26.8 in Q4 2013. Not surprisingly, 18-24 year-olds spend the most time on apps each month (37 hours, 6 minutes). Continue reading Consumers Spending 31 Percent More Time with Mobile Apps

Verizon Offers Perks to Those Willing to Share Personal Data

Verizon announced its new Smart Rewards program this week that provides consumers with the opportunity to accrue points in a credit card-style program that offers discounts for dining, shopping and travel. Signing on to the Verizon site, paying bills online and participating in the trade-in program lead to earning points. However, participants also have to sign up for Verizon Selects, which collects location, Web browsing and mobile app usage data for marketing purposes. Continue reading Verizon Offers Perks to Those Willing to Share Personal Data

Verizon FiOS Eyes Future with Bump in Bandwidth for Uploads

Verizon’s FiOS TV and broadband service unveiled faster Internet upload speeds yesterday as a next step in competing with the cable industry while attempting to reverse slowing growth. The company is increasing the bandwidth its customers can use for uploading media, at no additional charge. FiOS will provide the same upload speeds as download speeds that subscribers currently have. FiOS plans to complete the rollout by the fall, with 95 percent of customers receiving it automatically. Continue reading Verizon FiOS Eyes Future with Bump in Bandwidth for Uploads

Starbucks Mobile App to Add Feature: Online Orders for Pickup

Starbucks will soon allow its customers to place orders using the company’s mobile app. The service will have a test run before the end of the year and will roll out nationwide shortly after. The idea is to make the order/purchase process more convenient while reducing wait times at locations. The feature should also make it easier for those who place large orders. The move may be a natural next step for some, since a growing number of customers already use the mobile app at checkout. Continue reading Starbucks Mobile App to Add Feature: Online Orders for Pickup

Amazon Announces its Kindle Unlimited, the Netflix for Books

Amazon announced its new Kindle Unlimited, a $9.99 per month unlimited reading and listening service that provides access to more than 600,000 Kindle books and thousands of audiobooks from Audible. It will be available for the Kindle as well as iOS and Android mobile devices through the Amazon Kindle app. Analysts suggest that the service, which will compete with existing ebook subscription services Scribd and Oyster, could spark as much as $1 billion in growth for Amazon. Continue reading Amazon Announces its Kindle Unlimited, the Netflix for Books

Qplay Video Service Shutters Just Six Months After its Launch

Qplay, the video streaming device and app startup launched by TiVo co-founders Mike Ramsay and Jim Barton, will close for business this Friday. The San Jose, California-based company was founded in August 2012 and its $49 Qplay adapter was introduced in February. The startup’s iPad app provided access to free online video sites — such as Vimeo, Yahoo and YouTube — and curated clips based on user preferences. It did not, however, provide access to subscription services. Continue reading Qplay Video Service Shutters Just Six Months After its Launch

LeapFrog to Launch Educator-Approved Game Console for Kids

LeapFrog Enterprises plans to launch its $150 kid-friendly LeapTV game console this fall. The twist? LeapTV will debut with 100 games and videos approved by professional educators, those who ideally know what is best for children. The console will include personalization features and motion-sensing controls similar to those introduced with Nintendo’s Wii. Games will target children ages 3 to 8. At launch there will be nine cartridge titles offered, with additional titles available digitally. Continue reading LeapFrog to Launch Educator-Approved Game Console for Kids

Apple and IBM Tackle Mobile Enterprise with Exclusive Venture

Apple and IBM announced a joint venture that the tech giants have been working on for several months. The exclusive partnership will focus on mobile and data analysis tech in the corporate world by developing more than 100 business software programs intended for use on iPhones and iPads. Applications will be tailored for banking, healthcare, insurance, retail, telecommunications and transportation. Apple CEO Tim Cook described the venture as “a landmark partnership.” Continue reading Apple and IBM Tackle Mobile Enterprise with Exclusive Venture

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