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Google Debuts New Phones, Smart Speaker, Hybrid Laptop

Google debuted its third iteration of Pixel smartphones to rival high-end Apple and Samsung phones. The company also introduced a smart speaker with built-in display and a hybrid laptop/tablet. Although the hardware devices showcase Google’s chops in AI and image processing, they haven’t moved the needle on the company’s sales or market share; its most popular hardware product is a wireless router. Google also unveiled Duplex, a human-sounding bot to be available on Pixel smartphones by the end of 2018 in a few U.S. cities. Read more

Observer Analytics Debuts Tool to Evaluate VR, AR Content

Observer Analytics unveiled its platform for quantifying virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality, to create key performance indicators (KPIs) for the industry. The platform was built from scratch to analyze the new and complex forms of engagement found in this immersive content, with the end goal of making it easier for developers to understand how users interact with their content. To create the platform, the company has raised $685,000, including a pre-seed round from Boost VC and Precursor Ventures. Read more

Microsoft Joins OIN, Open Sources its Entire Patent Portfolio

Microsoft has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), the North Carolina-based open-source patent community that launched in 2005 with a mission to protect Linux and Linux-related software. In joining OIN, Microsoft is essentially granting an unrestricted, royalty-free license for its patents to the community’s 2,650 members. Microsoft’s corporate VP and chief IP counsel Erich Andersen said the company is pledging its “entire patent portfolio to the Linux system. That’s not just the Linux kernel, but other packages built on it.” Read more

Digital Content NewFronts West Reveals Advertising Trends

At the Digital Content NewFronts West marketing event, October 9-10 in Los Angeles, premium content producers demonstrated how they are trying to attract and maintain viewers. In addition to offering podcasts, shoppable videos and smart speakers, producers are moving away from ads that interrupt programming, mainly because viewers simply won’t tolerate commercials, not even 30-second pre-rolls. A study revealed that those viewers who do watch mainly ad-supported OTT video are younger and typically earn higher income. Read more

Walmart to License MGM Content for its Vudu VOD Service

Walmart, which bought video-on-demand service Vudu eight years ago, just inked a partnership with MGM to license family-friendly content. Vudu’s monthly viewer numbers lag behind Netflix and Hulu, the latter controlled by Disney, Comcast, 21st Century Fox and AT&T. Although media outlets reported that Walmart intends to launch a subscription-based streaming video service, sources inside Walmart reveal that Walmart is not doing so, but still hopes to improve its VOD business and target viewers outside big cities. Read more

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