Amazon Expands its A La Carte Offerings with HBO, Cinemax

Prime video members can access premium cable content from HBO and Cinemax now that Amazon has introduced the channels to its add-on packs in Amazon Channels, which now features more than 70 add-ons available to subscribers willing to pay more each month. “HBO is an additional $14.99 per month, and Cinemax is $9.99 monthly, with both offering 30-day free trials,” notes TechCrunch (HBO’s standalone HBO Now also runs $15/month). “The HBO add-on provides access to HBO’s current hits and past hit shows and limited series, as well as their current licensed movies, and news shows. Likewise Cinemax provides access to their original shows, as well as movies.” Continue reading Amazon Expands its A La Carte Offerings with HBO, Cinemax

GoPro to Lay Off 200 Employees, Tony Bates Stepping Down

Following failed attempts at becoming a media company, GoPro announced it plans to shutter its entertainment division and cut 15 percent of its staff, about 200 full-time positions. Former Microsoft exec and Skype CEO Tony Bates, president of GoPro since 2014, will step down by the end of the year. Despite high-profile hires, including Charlotte Koh from Hulu Originals and Bill McCullough from HBO Sports, as well as a 2014 Emmy for its Hero 3 camera and a variety of athlete endorsements, GoPro has been unsuccessful in pushing its entertainment offerings. After losing about half its value this year, the company hopes that restructuring will help return it to profitability. Continue reading GoPro to Lay Off 200 Employees, Tony Bates Stepping Down

Fitbit Close to Acquiring Struggling Smartwatch Maker Pebble

According to a report from The Information, fitness band market leader Fitbit is close to finalizing a deal to purchase smartwatch maker (and Kickstarter success story) Pebble. The startup was said to be facing financial challenges and looking to sell. Fitbit is reportedly looking to pick up Pebble’s intellectual property and software, and is expected to shutter the brand and its products over time. While a dollar amount for the deal has not been revealed, some place the purchase price in the $34-40 million range. “Watch maker Citizen was interested in purchasing Pebble for $740 million in 2015,” reports TechCrunch. “This deal failed and before the launch of the Pebble 2 Intel made an offer for $70 million.” Continue reading Fitbit Close to Acquiring Struggling Smartwatch Maker Pebble

It’s Official: Cyber Monday Bigger Than Black Friday This Year

As projected, this week’s Cyber Monday shopping event set a new single-day online sales record, according to Adobe. Following Black Friday’s record of $3.34 billion in online sales, as well as a new record of $1.2 billion in purchases made via mobile devices, Cyber Monday reached a staggering $3.45 billion in sales in the U.S., up 12.1 percent compared to the same day in 2015. Thanksgiving weekend is generally considered the start of the holiday shopping season and an indicator of economic health and consumer confidence. From November 24-28, consumers spent $12.81 billion, a 16.4 percent jump over last year. Continue reading It’s Official: Cyber Monday Bigger Than Black Friday This Year

Apple Considers Curved OLED Screen for Next Year’s iPhone

A future iPhone featuring a curved OLED screen could be available by next year. According to Apple’s suppliers, Apple has requested thinner OLEDs and new prototypes with higher resolution than screens offered by Samsung. As Apple gets ready for next year’s 10th anniversary of its popular iPhone, the company has been contending with slowing smartphone sales. Samsung, Google and Xiaomi are among those that have already made the transition from conventional LCD displays to thinner and lighter OLED tech that does not require the same backlight and allows for flexible designs. Continue reading Apple Considers Curved OLED Screen for Next Year’s iPhone

Black Friday Sets New Records, More Consumers Go Mobile

According to separate research from Adobe and the National Retail Federation, Black Friday set new records for e-commerce with online sales surpassing $3 billion for the first time, while also marking the first day in U.S. retail history to experience more than $1 billion in sales made from mobile devices. Adobe reports $3.34 billion in total online sales, a 21.6 percent jump over last year, with mobile accounting for $1.2 billion, a 33 percent increase. And shoppers were thrifty this time around. While the NRF found that the number of shoppers increased over the weekend compared to 2015, average consumer spending dropped 3.5 percent, including online and offline purchases. Continue reading Black Friday Sets New Records, More Consumers Go Mobile

December Previews to Launch ETC’s Coverage of CES 2017

Extensive, in-depth coverage of CES 2017 by ETC@USC begins the week of December 5th with a series of preview stories exploring the top CE trends and technologies — and their significance to the entertainment industry. CES, the global gathering place for innovation and tech, is presented by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and runs January 5-8 in Las Vegas. CES 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the conference. Since the first Consumer Electronics Show in 1967, more than 700,000 products have debuted in what CTA calls “the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.” Continue reading December Previews to Launch ETC’s Coverage of CES 2017

Warner Bros. Acquires Machinima for Digital Networks Division

Warner Bros. announced its plan to purchase the rest of gamer-centric YouTube network Machinima, which the studio first invested in two years ago. The digital media company will join the recently created Warner Bros. Digital Networks arm to help the studio develop new digital and over-the-top offerings. “With Machinima now wholly under its control, Warner Bros. hopes to tap deeper into the network’s loyal audience of young consumers who devour video game-related programming — especially content related to Warner’s own franchises including DC,” reports the Los Angeles Times. Machinima also “provides video programming for services including Playstation Vue, Amazon Prime and the CW network.” Continue reading Warner Bros. Acquires Machinima for Digital Networks Division

Daily Fantasy Sports: FanDuel and DraftKings Agree to Merge

Former rivals DraftKings and FanDuel announced they plan to merge their daily fantasy sports operations into one company, to be run by DraftKings CEO Jason Robins. FanDuel chief exec Nigel Eccles will become chairman. The board will include three directors each from DraftKings and FanDuel, plus an independent director, while headquarters will be divided between New York and Boston offices. The deal, which aims to increase innovation by freeing up money, is expected to close during the second half of next year. Continue reading Daily Fantasy Sports: FanDuel and DraftKings Agree to Merge

Symantec Agrees to Purchase LifeLock for $2.3 Billion in Cash

Computer security company Symantec Corp. will acquire LifeLock Inc. for $2.3 billion in a deal that will broaden Symantic’s offerings beyond its antivirus software. LifeLock, which sells identity-theft protection services, currently has more than 4.4 million subscribers. “Symantec hopes to integrate LifeLock with its Norton antivirus businesses into a single product line after the acquisition closes, expected early next year,” reports The Wall Street Journal. In June, Symantec acquired Blue Coat Systems for $4.65 billion to add cyberdefense technologies to its portfolio. Earlier this year, the company “sold its Veritas data-storage unit to Carlyle Group for $7.4 billion.” Continue reading Symantec Agrees to Purchase LifeLock for $2.3 Billion in Cash

AOL Layoffs Reflect New Emphasis on Mobile, Video and Data

AOL is planning to release 5 percent of its staff today, affecting about 500 employees. “CEO Tim Armstrong said that most of the cuts will come in its corporate units, while resources will be shifted more at mobile, video and data offerings going forward,” reports Recode. AOL, which was purchased last year by Verizon, recently added 1,500 employees from its ad deal with Microsoft and acquisition of Millennial Media. AOL’s current structure features its media unit (with properties such as Huffington Post and TechCrunch) and its platforms groups, which includes its advertising tech. “Armstrong said the layoffs are not related to current discussions AOL execs are having with Yahoo counterparts about integration between the two companies,” notes Recode. Continue reading AOL Layoffs Reflect New Emphasis on Mobile, Video and Data

CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association outlined the CTA’s projections for retail holiday sales. Anticipating a 3.1 percent increase over 2015 in consumer holiday spending on tech, top product categories include televisions, laptops and smartphones. Emerging categories such as wearables, drones and VR headsets are also projected to have a strong showing this season. DuBravac noted the top five tech trends to watch for at January’s CES: vocal computing, intelligent systems connecting diverse objects, self-driving cars and driver-assist technologies, artificial intelligence, and VR and AR entertainment. Continue reading CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

High Profile Snap IPO Could Push Other Startups to Go Public

Snapchat parent company Snap Inc. has confidentially filed for its IPO, according to sources familiar with the matter. The four-year old messaging app could go public as early as March 2017, in what is expected to be one of the highest-profile stock debuts in years, and one that could potentially convince other tech startups to test public markets. The Venice, California-based company is looking to raise as much as $4 billion, with a valuation in the $25 billion range, which could make it the largest U.S.-listed tech offering since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba went public in 2014. Continue reading High Profile Snap IPO Could Push Other Startups to Go Public

Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

Insiders report that Apple is working on a pair of wireless digital glasses that would connect to iPhones and possibly use augmented reality. “While still in an exploration phase,” reports Bloomberg, “Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers” and “the company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing.” According to those familiar with the concept, Apple isn’t ready for mass production and, if it moves forward with the eyewear, we shouldn’t expect to see a product until 2018. Chief exec Tim Cook, under pressure to make up for waning iPhone sales, has expressed interest in AR following the success of “Pokémon Go.” Continue reading Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

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