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Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, has licensed its music catalog to Facebook. The deal, which focuses on the music in user-generated videos, covers songs that will be used in the background on videos and so-called social experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus. For Facebook, the deal is aimed at encouraging users to post more videos, key to the company’s current video-centric strategy. A day before this deal was struck, Universal also reached an agreement with YouTube. Read more

VR Gaming Turns to Cryptocurrencies for Buying Virtual Assets

VR games and cryptocurrencies are joining forces. Social virtual reality company High Fidelity, co-founded by “Second Life” creator Philip Rosedale, began developing a blockchain for in-game cryptocurrency and intellectual protection in 2017. Now the company has debuted Avatar Island, a VR shopping center for avatars created by digital artists around the globe, and will accept payment in a new cryptocurrency running on blockchain. Rosedale notes that Linden Dollar for “Second Life” was one of the first digital goods currencies. Read more

Forecast: Smart Speakers Will Outsell Wearables This Season

Strategy Analytics predicts the smart speaker market will nearly quadruple in unit volume this year, bringing the total to 24 million. According to eMarketer, smart speakers will likely outsell wearables in the U.S. this holiday season. “We expect smart speakers to be the gift of choice for many tech enthusiasts, because of their lower price points,” said eMarketer analyst Cindy Liu. The research firm anticipates continued growth for devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers in the U.S., but slowed growth in terms of usage. Read more

Apple to Merge Software Development for iOS & macOS Apps

Although apps have been a huge success on Apple’s iPhone and iPad, the same cannot be said for its laptop and desktop computers. Apple hopes to change that by creating apps that work equally well across all its devices, including Macs. Beginning as early as 2018, software developers will have the capability to design a single application that will work with a touchscreen, mouse or trackpad, across the iPhone/iPad operating system or Mac hardware, say sources. Currently, they must design two apps, one for iOS and another for macOS. Read more

BlackBerry Bets on Operating Systems for Self-Driving Vehicles

BlackBerry is now focusing its efforts on QNX, a division to create technology for in-car entertainment and information systems. The Canadian company plans to spend $76 million and double its QNX engineering staff to 1,000 in the next few years. Although BlackBerry competes with major tech companies in autonomous vehicles, it has already inked partnerships with Ford Motor Company and General Motors’ spinoff Aptiv (formerly Delphi Automotive). Deals with Tata Motors and Jaguar Land Rover are also pending. QNX tech will be on display at CES 2018 next month. Read more

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