Netflix Subs and Revenue Are Up, Operating Profit Is Down

Netflix has always wanted Wall Street to judge it based on revenue and global operating-profit margins rather than subscription growth. But the company’s Q2 report shows just how unpredictable those results can be. Netflix added 5.2 million subscribers, much more than the 3.2 million it predicted, for a total of 104 million global subscribers. But its global operating profit margin was down 4.6 percent from 9.7 percent in Q1, while revenue skyrocketed 32 percent to $2.79 billion. Continue reading Netflix Subs and Revenue Are Up, Operating Profit Is Down

Amazon Spark: New Social Feed of Product Images, Stories

Now out of beta, Amazon launched a new social feature in the U.S. yesterday that is designed to return social activity surrounding products back to the Amazon site while hopefully improving product discovery for its users. Similar to the approach of Instagram’s shoppable photos, Amazon Spark allows users to post images, new ideas and related posts regarding products they find interesting. To foster social interaction, other users can respond with their own comments and “smiles” — Amazon’s take on “favorite” and “like” buttons. Continue reading Amazon Spark: New Social Feed of Product Images, Stories

Anytime: Amazon May Be Developing a New Messaging App

Amazon may be developing a standalone messaging app called Anytime that would allow people to connect without the need to include phone numbers, which is how other messaging apps such as Viber and WhatsApp typically connect. The company has reportedly been running a survey to gather feedback about a service “for smartphones, tablets, PCs and smart watches designed to let people chat with text and video, send each other fun photos with filters, play games and engage with other Amazon services,” reports TechCrunch. Earlier this year, AWS launched a communication service called Chime for enterprise customers. Continue reading Anytime: Amazon May Be Developing a New Messaging App

Apple to Open New Data Center in China With Local Partner

Apple will open its first data center in southwest China, in response to a new Chinese law that requires companies to store data within its borders. The data center, which will be operated in partnership with a local data management company, is part of a $1 billion investment Apple will make in the Guizhou province. Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft have built data centers in Germany, France and the Netherlands among other countries for technical reasons and in response to security concerns of governments and customers. Continue reading Apple to Open New Data Center in China With Local Partner

Apple iTunes Losing Market Share for Movie Rentals, Sales

Apple’s iTunes Store continues to lose market share for video viewers. In 2012, say sources, the company was responsible for well over 50 percent of movie rentals and sales; that figure has now decreased to between 20 percent and 35 percent. The figures are uncertain because no trade group or company tracks market share of digital movies, but several Hollywood studios have reported a decline in the amount of business with iTunes. An Apple spokeswoman said the company is targeting subscription services, an area experiencing significant growth. Continue reading Apple iTunes Losing Market Share for Movie Rentals, Sales

Internet Firms Rally Users to Oppose the End of Net Neutrality

Internet companies, large and small, will begin to rally their users to join a “day of action” online protest against the demise of net neutrality. Many of these same Internet companies fought hard for these same net neutrality rules, instituted in 2015. FCC chairman Ajit Pai has said he supports an open Internet but that the Obama-era rules are too “heavy handed.” Net neutrality prevents large service providers from slowing down the Internet offerings, including media such as movies and music, of their rivals. Continue reading Internet Firms Rally Users to Oppose the End of Net Neutrality

Amazon Prime Members May Soon Top Pay TV Subscribers

According to new estimates from Morningstar, the number of Amazon Prime members may soon exceed the number of cable and satellite TV subscribers in the United States. Morningstar points to 79 million Prime members, up from 66 million at the end of 2016 (based on analysis of Amazon’s cash-flow statement). S&P Global projects 90 million U.S. households will pay for cable or satellite television this year. Recode reports, “According to these estimates, more U.S. households may have an Amazon Prime subscription than a pay TV subscription as soon as next year.” Continue reading Amazon Prime Members May Soon Top Pay TV Subscribers

Twitch Debuts Mobile App Updates Including Cam Streaming

Amazon-owned Twitch updated both its iOS and Android apps with a new navigation bar, interface options, recommendation algorithm and mobile streaming. The features will make it easier to use the camera for selfie-style videos and likely result in more content on the platform. Although Twitch has been focused on live gaming-related video — with a total market worth $4.6 billion — it has begun to include non-gaming content as part of Twitch IRL. Twitch also opened subscriptions to affiliates that don’t have as many viewers as a Twitch Partner. Continue reading Twitch Debuts Mobile App Updates Including Cam Streaming

Samsung and Alibaba Join the Digital Assistant Speaker Race

According to sources, Samsung Electronics is integrating its digital assistant Bixby into a voice-activated speaker, in a project dubbed “Vega” that has been ongoing for more than a year. Competition is stiff in the voice-powered speaker market, with popular options from a variety of tech leaders. Digital assistants — including Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana and now Samsung’s Bixby — use artificial intelligence to “learn” over time. New speakers are joining the race later this year, and China’s Alibaba Group is currently debuting an inexpensive version, Tmall Genie. Continue reading Samsung and Alibaba Join the Digital Assistant Speaker Race

QVC to Purchase HSN in All-Stock Deal Valued at $2.1 Billion

Cable TV rivals QVC and the Home Shopping Network announced they plan to merge through an all-stock transaction valued around $2.1 billion. QVC chief exec Mike George will run the combined company and 17 cable channels. As impulse buying and video watching increasingly go mobile, the TV-based retailers have been facing increased competition from Amazon. “QVC’s sales in the U.S. have declined in each of the last three quarters,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Revenue at HSN has declined for six straight quarters, and the company has been searching for a new CEO.” Continue reading QVC to Purchase HSN in All-Stock Deal Valued at $2.1 Billion

Netflix Fans Watch More Monthly, Hulu Leads in Daily Viewing

In April, we reported that Netflix held the top spot among streaming services in U.S. household penetration. Last month, Leichtman Research released figures suggesting that Netflix had doubled its subscription base over five years and, for the first time, surpassed cable TV in number of total subscribers. Now, comScore data indicates that cord cutters are spending more time watching content via Netflix per month than they are on Amazon Video, Hulu and YouTube combined. Interestingly, the data also shows that Hulu users watch more content on a daily basis. Continue reading Netflix Fans Watch More Monthly, Hulu Leads in Daily Viewing

Hulu Is Latest SVOD Service to Back AOMedia Video Codec

Hulu has joined the Alliance for Open Media (AOMedia) to help promote the AV1 AOMedia Video codec. The alliance’s video compression standard “strives to deliver improved compression efficiency over the current cutting-edge video compression standards HEVC/H.265 and VP9, in addition to providing the industry with an open source, royalty-free, interoperable video format,” wrote Hulu CTO Tian Lim. “Hulu joins other streaming media industry leaders in pursuit of a common goal — to accelerate development and facilitate friction-free adoption of new media technologies that benefit the streaming media industry and our viewers.” Continue reading Hulu Is Latest SVOD Service to Back AOMedia Video Codec

Hollywood Fights ‘Legal’ Software to Stream Pirated Content

CorkyTV pitches its service as “Free TV For Life!” The easy-to-use software, offered by Corky Stanton for sale on Amazon Fire sticks and other streaming devices costing up to $300, lets users stream TV shows and movies from dubious websites. Stanton claims the software is completely legal, placing the responsibility on the user. He represents a new kind of entrepreneur that is raising concern in Hollywood as the entertainment industry continues to battle piracy and copyright infringement. Continue reading Hollywood Fights ‘Legal’ Software to Stream Pirated Content

Google Releases Public Beta of Cloud Video Intelligence API

Google’s Cloud Video Intelligence API just entered public beta. Using a system called label detection, the API lets users upload a video and get back information about the objects appearing in it. Google also added support to identify pornographic content and announced improvements to the Cloud Vision API to make several features more accurate. By putting its Cloud Video Intelligence API into public beta, Google is taking another step in its plan to make artificial intelligence more accessible to more developers. Continue reading Google Releases Public Beta of Cloud Video Intelligence API

Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners has agreed to purchase office supply retail chain Staples for $6.9 billion. Staples is another retailer that has been impacted by the growing success of Amazon and other online shopping services. Amazon, for example, has become a major competitor for corporate customers, while Staples’ overall sales have declined 6.1 percent over the past five years, according to ABC News. In 2015, Staples attempted to merge with Office Depot in an effort to stay competitive online, but last year the deal was blocked by a federal judge in response to a lawsuit initiated by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

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