VR Headset Makers Launch Global Virtual Reality Association

The Global Virtual Reality Association (GVRA) was officially announced on Wednesday. This group is groundbreaking in that its founding members include many of the major competing VR headset manufacturers that have been the focus of so much press attention over the last year: Acer Starbreeze, Google, HTC Vive, Facebook’s Oculus, Samsung and Sony Interactive Entertainment. GVRA states on its website that “while seeking to educate consumers, governments, and industry about VR’s potential, the association wants to get ahead of challenges with developing and deploying the technology responsibly.” Continue reading VR Headset Makers Launch Global Virtual Reality Association

Hulu Launches Ultra HD, YouTube Supports 4K Live Streaming

Hulu has joined Netflix and Amazon in offering select titles in 4K. Subscribers with a Microsoft Xbox One S or Sony PlayStation 4 Pro console (and a minimum connection speed of 13 megabits per second) can now enjoy James Bond films and original Hulu series in the Ultra HD format. Netflix and Amazon also offer select high dynamic range content. Meanwhile, YouTube — which first introduced 4K support to its video-sharing site in 2010 — is now bringing the same capability to live streaming of 4K and 360 videos. The feature should help the site compete with Facebook and Twitter in the live streaming space. Continue reading Hulu Launches Ultra HD, YouTube Supports 4K Live Streaming

Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

In the carefully watched design patent battle between Apple and Samsung, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled yesterday that Samsung may not be liable for its entire $399 million in profits after copying the iPhone’s distinctive look, including its rectangular front face, rounded corners and grid of icons. In 2012, a jury decided that Samsung had infringed on Apple’s patents. “Design patents, which address what products look like, are far less common than utility patents, which cover how products work,” explains The New York Times. “The Supreme Court’s opinion, while not decisively resolving the case, found that liability in design patent cases is not necessarily an all-or-nothing proposition.” The two companies will return to court to determine an appropriate amount for damages. Continue reading Supreme Court Rules in Apple-Samsung Design Patent Case

Ambient Paradigm Has Implications for Media & Entertainment

A future ambient business model would change the way we think about screens, mobile and IoT in a post-device world — an emerging reality that we expect to see illustrated at CES 2017. Recently, a look at what it means for businesses to operate in a post-device world has surfaced in forward-thinking analyses. Specifically, some reports have examined how Apple continues to prosper as customers increasingly do almost everything on anything. At UBS, analyst Steve Milunovich thinks Apple is already moving towards an ambient (present on all sides) paradigm, with a proliferation of devices that increasingly allow you to interoperate seamlessly across a full range of digital formats. In this new paradigm, the real growth will likely be extensions of services. Continue reading Ambient Paradigm Has Implications for Media & Entertainment

CES 2017 Keynote Speaker Line-Up Foretells Scope of Show

A look at the line-up of keynote speakers for the upcoming CES 2017 show in Las Vegas confirms the Consumer Technology Association’s expanding worldview and provides a leading indicator of what to expect when the sprawling show opens on January 5. The “night before” keynote, made famous by Bill Gates, is now a coveted timeslot occupied this year by Nvidia co-founder and CEO Jen-Hsun Huang, making his first CES keynote presentation. Nvidia’s substantial investment in artificial intelligence along with its well-established achievements in self-driving cars, VR, and gaming are likely topics. Continue reading CES 2017 Keynote Speaker Line-Up Foretells Scope of Show

CBS All Access Has Deal to Live-Stream NFL Football Games

CBS recently announced that it signed a deal with the NFL to stream CBS-broadcast football games via the network’s $6-a-month standalone streaming app. “CBS All Access subscribers will be able to stream the game that is being broadcast by their local CBS affiliate, as well as playoff games and several of next year’s Thursday night NFL games,” reports The New York Times. According to CBS, its app currently touts about a million subscribers, which the network predicts will reach 4 million in the next five years. The NFL has been looking for alternatives as it contends with declining ratings for primetime games. The league has already agreed to live stream Thursday Night Football games on Twitter. Continue reading CBS All Access Has Deal to Live-Stream NFL Football Games

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

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