ETC’s Virtual Conference: Call for Speakers Deadline May 18

The Entertainment Technology Center at The University of Southern California (ETC) will produce “vETC 2018 | The Grand Convergence,” its 4th annual virtual conference (formerly vNAB), June 27-28, 2018, in Los Angeles, highlighting significant presentations of emerging technologies and their impact on the M&E industry. The presentations will be recorded and posted to our YouTube channel. The Initial Expression of Interest seeking speakers and topics is open through Friday, May 18. Specific areas of concentration include AI, machine learning, adaptive production, blockchain, AR/MR/XR (immersive media). We welcome additional topics. Speakers will present concepts, workflows, business models, case studies, etc. Please no sales pitches! If you are interested in consideration, click here for more information. Continue reading ETC’s Virtual Conference: Call for Speakers Deadline May 18

Creative Storage Conference Comes to Culver City Next Month

For those interested in the latest in digital storage for media and entertainment, the 2018 Creative Storage Conference is scheduled for June 7th at the DoubleTree Hotel in Culver City, California. Coughlin Associates is conducting a survey of digital storage requirements and practices for M&E professionals with results to be presented at the event. M&E professionals who complete the online survey and indicate their contact information at the end of the survey will receive a free full pass to the Creative Storage Conference. Coughlin Associates is also offering a $100 discount off full conference registration. Continue reading Creative Storage Conference Comes to Culver City Next Month

Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

In the wake of the Facebook privacy scandal, London-based data consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL Elections announced yesterday that they will be shutting down and filing for bankruptcy. Cambridge Analytica, which is accused of mining the data of up to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, has defended its actions while blaming the media for damaging its reputation and driving away clients. The company said it was “vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas.” Continue reading Cambridge Analytica to Cease Operations, File for Bankruptcy

Google Honors Georges Méliès Today with its First VR Doodle

If you visit the Google search page today, you’ll see what Google is describing as its first VR Doodle. Clicking it takes you to a YouTube player for a 360-degree animated short called “Back to the Moon” that celebrates French filmmaker, illusionist, and sci-fi pioneer Georges Méliès. The YouTube version is a teaser for the mobile VR experience, which is available for Cardboard and Daydream headsets via the Spotlight Stories app. While other Spotlight Stories such as “Pearl” and “Buggy Night” have been featured on YouTube in the past, the Google homepage promotion is a first. Continue reading Google Honors Georges Méliès Today with its First VR Doodle

T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Wireless carriers T-Mobile and Sprint on Sunday announced they have entered into a merger agreement for an all-stock transaction. The $26 billion merger would reduce the U.S. wireless market to three major players and give Japan’s SoftBank (Sprint’s majority owner since 2012) a greater presence in the U.S. If approved, the newly combined company would keep the name T-Mobile, and would be run by current T-Mobile U.S. CEO John Legere and T-Mobile COO Mike Sievert. The $146 billion entity would be controlled by T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom. Continue reading T-Mobile, Sprint Announce All-Stock Deal for $26 Billion Merger

Amazon Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

Amazon announced that it plans to raise the price of its annual Prime membership from $99 to $119 in the U.S. The move marks the first increase since 2014 when the shipping and entertainment membership program cost $79 per year. New subscribers will pay $119 a year starting May 11, while the new fee will apply to current members beginning with renewals on June 16. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos recently revealed that Prime has more than 100 million global members. The company surprised investors this week with news that it had more than doubled its quarterly profits to $1.6 billion. Continue reading Amazon Will Raise the Price of Prime Membership Next Month

Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Amazon is introducing the $80 Echo Dot Kids Edition with FreeTime services. Intended for children ages 5 to 12, the modified Echo Dot features a brightly colored, protective rubber case; kid-friendly content from the likes of Audible, Disney and iHeartRadio; and parental controls such as time limits, activity review and content filtering. Users can wake up to alarms based on characters from Disney, Nickelodeon and others. The speaker, which is available for pre-order and starts shipping May 9, includes the same two-year replacement guarantee that Amazon rolled out for its Fire tablets for kids. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Smart Speaker Edition Designed for Kids

Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

Spotify is offering more free music in an effort to ultimately increase its number of paid subscribers. The popular streaming service has introduced an updated version of its free mobile app that offers non-paying users more on-demand tracks from 15 pre-populated playlists. Some of the playlists — such as “Discover Weekly” — are personalized for individual users. Spotify, already the world’s largest paid music service (and now a public company), is expanding its freemium model with the goal of one day reaching billions of users, while maintaining its lead over #2 subscription service Apple Music and other competitors. Continue reading Spotify Expands Free Offerings, Looks to Extend Market Lead

Study: Streaming Music Services Continue Worldwide Growth

According to a new report from MIDiA Research and digital media association DiMA, 2017 marked the third consecutive year of revenue growth for streaming music and subscription services. Worldwide recorded music revenue increased from $16 billion in 2016 to $17.4 billion last year. Streaming revenues reached $7.4 billion, representing 43 percent of all revenue. Meanwhile, legacy music formats — including downloads and physical albums — dropped by $783 million. Streaming music subscriptions experienced significant growth in the U.S., up 63 percent from 2016 to $4 billion in 2017. Continue reading Study: Streaming Music Services Continue Worldwide Growth

AT&T Plans to Introduce New Sports-Free Streaming Service

AT&T chief exec Randall Stephenson announced last Thursday that the company plans to introduce the AT&T Watch live TV service in the coming weeks. The streaming service will offer a sports-free, skinny bundle of channels to general consumers for $15-per-month and for free to AT&T Wireless subscribers. “At this price point,” explains TechCrunch, “the service would be one of the lowest on the market — less than Sling TV’s entry-level, $20-per-month package, and just a bit less than Philo’s low-cost, sports-free offering, priced at $16 per month.” Continue reading AT&T Plans to Introduce New Sports-Free Streaming Service

Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Smartphones could be on their way toward becoming the new remote, as a recent GfK survey of 1,000 Internet users 18 and older found that 89 percent use their phones to control connected home products and services (an increase of 19 percent since 2015). The same respondents indicated that they are now using their phones more than other devices in the home: 83 percent use their smartphones at home, 75 percent use their laptops, 54 percent use PCs, and 34 percent use game consoles. The figures represent increases across all categories when compared to 2015. Continue reading Consumers Are Using Phones to Control Smart Home Devices

Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

As part of the company’s recent push to develop new hardware, Facebook is reportedly working toward designing its own custom chips to be used in its consumer devices, data centers and AI software. The social media giant is currently developing devices such as smart speakers and VR headsets, and building its own chips could provide more control over design and development of these projects. Facebook’s strategy follows similar approaches by other tech giants, including Google and Apple. Continue reading Facebook Said to Be in Early Stages of Developing Own Chips

Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

Led by tech titans Facebook and Microsoft, more than 30 tech companies have signed a Cybersecurity Tech Accord as part of their efforts to protect customers from cyberattacks and “the misuse of their technology.” According to the agreement, tech companies pledge not to assist governments that initiate attacks against “innocent civilians and enterprises.” Among the signatories are companies that power Internet technology and information infrastructure, including Cisco, Cloudflare, Dell, HP, LinkedIn, Nielsen, Nokia, Oracle, Symantec and VMware. Continue reading Tech Firms Sign a Cybersecurity Pledge to Protect Customers

McAfee: One in Four Companies Impacted by Cloud Data Theft

As more enterprises move their data to the cloud, cybersecurity firm McAfee reports that 26 percent of companies have already experienced cloud data theft. McAfee released its report — based on polling 1,400 IT professionals during Q4 2017 — ahead of this week’s RSA security conference. “The survey showed that 97 percent of companies use cloud services, either as a public or private cloud or a combination of both, up from 93 percent a year ago,” reports VentureBeat. “Eighty-three percent store sensitive data in the cloud, but only 69 percent trust the public cloud to keep their data secure.” Continue reading McAfee: One in Four Companies Impacted by Cloud Data Theft

iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

Sensor Tower has found that iPhone users in the U.S. increased in-app purchase spending by 23 percent last year over 2016. Active users spent an average of $58 in 2017 using Apple’s in-app purchase or subscription options. The figures do not reflect e-commerce spending via sites like Amazon or payments for services such as Lyft or Uber. At roughly 62 percent of average spending, mobile gaming leads the charge in this sector. Subscription-based streaming services, and music, dating and lifestyle apps also contributed to the rise in spending. Continue reading iPhone Users Spending More on Games, Streaming Services

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