European Commission Poised to Issue Major Fine to Google

The European Commission in Brussels is at the end of its seven-year investigation of Google and preparing to issue a record-breaking fine, expected to be about 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion). To date, the toughest fine the Commission has issued was 1.1 billion euros, levied at Intel. Inside sources say the announcement will likely come before the summer break, possibly as early as next week, and that the final amount hasn’t been decided upon, with the maximum possible at around 6.6 billion euros, or a tenth of Google’s total annual sales. Continue reading European Commission Poised to Issue Major Fine to Google

VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

For those looking for an affordable VR alternative, RiftCat has been busy developing an app called VRidge that streams virtual reality games from a PC to a smartphone over Wi-Fi. The beta is currently available for Android, but the company is also working on an iOS version. The most recent update added support for SteamVR and Razer’s open source OSVR project. The implications could be significant, especially when considering the cost of investing in a high-end VR headset, such as the $600 Oculus Rift or $800 HTC Vive, both of which still require a powerful PC starting in the $1,500 range. Continue reading VRidge Streams VR from PC to Google Cardboard, Gear VR

Google Develops Tango and 3D Mapping for VR, Advertising

Google’s Project Tango, which will be showcased at the company’s I/O developer conference May 18 to 20, consists of cameras, depth sensors and software in Android devices to gather images and depth information to recreate a space in 3D. Sources say that the company plans to put more resources into expanding the technology and using it for virtual reality applications. The ultimate goal is to become a ubiquitous source for the world’s buildings, similar to Google Maps, which is used by one billion people a day. Continue reading Google Develops Tango and 3D Mapping for VR, Advertising

Spotify Now Producing Original Music-Focused Video Content

Music streaming service Spotify, which boasts 75 million users, plans to debut 12 new original video programs around music themes. The new programs, which will feature performances, pop culture, musical storytelling, animation and videos about music culture, will be produced and streamed beginning this summer. Spotify had announced a year ago that it planned to move into video. The content will initially be available in four regions — the U.S., U.K., Germany and its home market Sweden — out of the company’s 59 markets. Continue reading Spotify Now Producing Original Music-Focused Video Content

Amazon Ramps Up its Google Rivalry with New Video Service

Amazon is taking on Google with the launch of its Video Direct ad-supported video service, which allows anyone to upload original or licensed video content, similar to the YouTube model. Amazon account holders will have the options of offering their content for free, to rent or own, via a subscription channel, or exclusively to Amazon Prime members. The move is another step in Amazon’s push into media as the company continues to invest in original programming and exclusive deals with the likes of HBO and Epix, while introducing a month-by-month subscription option to compete with Netflix. Continue reading Amazon Ramps Up its Google Rivalry with New Video Service

TiVo Unveils Roamio OTA with More Storage, More Features

In addition to the recent debut of its 4K-ready DVR, TiVo just unveiled the latest version of its Roamio, the OTA 1TB. With a 1TB hard drive, users can record up to 150 hours of HD programming and up to four shows at once, due to multiple tuners. The device can also bring in over-the-air (OTA) or broadcast programs from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, PBS and Univision via an HD antenna. Roamio OTA 1TB will also allow users to watch streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube. Continue reading TiVo Unveils Roamio OTA with More Storage, More Features

Apple’s Growth Stalls, China Shutdown Could Signal Trouble

Apple’s 13-year run of quarterly revenue growth has come to an end; the company reported that revenue for its second fiscal quarter, ending March, declined 13 percent to $50.6 billion. The reasons are many: its huge size makes sustained momentum difficult; it has suffered setbacks in China, its second largest market; it lacks a hot new product; and, with iPhones accounting for half the smartphones in the U.S., phones have likely reached a saturation point. Sales of iPhones fell 16 percent in Q1 2016 compared to the same quarter last year. Continue reading Apple’s Growth Stalls, China Shutdown Could Signal Trouble

Sean Parker’s Airtime Returns as an App for Virtual Viewing

Napster co-founder Sean Parker has relaunched a product that first debuted in 2012 and was almost an immediate flop. Airtime is now an app, for Android and iOS, that lets users gather in a “room” to chat, text and watch YouTube and Vimeo videos together or listen to songs and podcasts from Spotify and SoundCloud. Parker, also an early investor in Facebook, says he created — and now recreated — Airtime to offer an alternative to the “certain loneliness” of the “fast superficial interactions” that form the basis of Facebook. Continue reading Sean Parker’s Airtime Returns as an App for Virtual Viewing

TV Globo Brazil Debuts OTT Simulcast, VOD, 4K in the Cloud

At NAB 2016, Globo Play TV program manager Marcos Rayol described that the Brazilian broadcaster’s OTT effort, Globo Play, offers simulcast, VOD and 4K in the cloud. Developing the concept was the most difficult part. “We spent a lot of time developing interfaces,” he said. “Once we began coding it, it was very straightforward.” Brazil has 115 million people with Internet access, 38 percent of whom have broadband connections. Of the 80 million with smartphones, only 34 percent accessed video in 2015. Continue reading TV Globo Brazil Debuts OTT Simulcast, VOD, 4K in the Cloud

European Officials Accuse Google of Breaking Antitrust Rules

European officials have charged Google with violating competition rules by favoring Android over rival mobile software. Europe’s competition chief Margrethe Vestager accused the tech giant of unfairly promoting its own mobile search and Chrome browser with phone makers. “We believe that Google’s behavior denies consumers a wider choice of mobile apps and services and stands in the way of innovation by other players,” said Vestager. From Brussels, the European Commission issued a release stating that Google has “abused its dominant position by imposing restrictions on Android device manufacturers and mobile network operators.” Continue reading European Officials Accuse Google of Breaking Antitrust Rules

YouTube Supports Live Streaming 360 Video and Spatial Audio

YouTube has begun supporting 360-degree live streaming video and spatial audio. Google has supported 360-degree video since last year and spatial audio in the Cardboard since January via the company’s VR platform. This announcement broadens that support to the main YouTube platform. For YouTube creators, all that’s required is a camera that captures 360 video. From the end-user perspective, there’s no extra technology or headsets required to watch 360-degree live streams. The videos will play on any device, including desktop, tablet, iOS and Android. Continue reading YouTube Supports Live Streaming 360 Video and Spatial Audio

ETC Ties Suitcase Bingo Game App to NAB Cloud Conference

ETC@USC has launched “The Suitcase Bingo Game” app in conjunction with the NAB Cloud Innovation Conference to encourage NAB participants to explore the latest in cloud production solutions. The app is available for both Android and iOS devices. The technologies were used in production of “The Suitcase,” the second short film to be produced through the Entertainment Technology Center and USC’s School of Cinematic Arts to test prove next generation workflow, use of the innovative C4 Framework, metadata, high dynamic range and 360 camera capture. Continue reading ETC Ties Suitcase Bingo Game App to NAB Cloud Conference

Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

Vizio is launching a SmartCast TV set and several soundbars and speakers, all based on Google Cast, the same technology as that company’s Chromecast streaming stick. With the SmartCast TV, the user can control streaming services directly from his or her phone, without a remote control. Vizio just introduced a companion Android app on Google Play that will allow volume control and other basic functions as well as a movie/TV show guide. One partner in the launch is Walmart’s video service Vudu. Continue reading Google Cast Technology Powers New Vizio TVs and Speakers

Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

For advertisers, ad blocking is a problem that’s quickly getting bigger, as more consumers download ad-blocking apps and browsers. Mobile marketing company Tune just released a new report that predicts that ad blocking could comprise 80 percent of smartphone owners by Q3 2017. In response, advertisers are exploring ways to block the ad blockers. Digital advertising trade group Interactive Advertising Bureau has written a primer on how to block the blockers, and even The New York Times is testing ways around them. Continue reading Advertisers Seek New Ways to Combat Growth of Ad Blocking

Open-Source Companies Turn to Proprietary Code for Profits

Open-source projects and operating systems are in offerings from Facebook, Twitter, Uber Technologies and operating systems such as Linux at the foundation of servers, financial trading platforms and Android phones. But businesses based on open-source code find it hard to make a profit, and sell tech support and consulting services for revenue. Even those that spin off companies from open-source projects don’t make big profits. The solution, some are finding, is to create proprietary code to support the free tools. Continue reading Open-Source Companies Turn to Proprietary Code for Profits

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