Apple and Qualcomm Call Truce and Drop Patent Litigation

Apple and Qualcomm agreed to a new license agreement and announced they would dismiss all litigation worldwide between the two companies. The truce brings a close to an extended legal battle over royalties involving smartphone tech. Apple has agreed to pay Qualcomm an undisclosed amount and Qualcomm will supply modem chips to Apple as part of a new multiyear deal. Hours after the settlement between Apple and Qualcomm was announced, chip rival Intel revealed it would cancel its plans to manufacture modem chips for 5G smartphones. Continue reading Apple and Qualcomm Call Truce and Drop Patent Litigation

MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

According to the MPAA’s annual Theatrical Home Entertainment Market Environment (THEME) Report, data from DEG and IHS Markit points to a significant reduction in the sales of video discs, including DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and Ultra HD Blu-ray. Global sales of video disc formats dropped from $25.2 billion in 2014 to $13.1 billion in 2018. However, global consumer spending on home entertainment increased 16 percent over 2017, thanks in part to the growing adoption of online subscription services such as Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The combined theatrical and home entertainment market increased 25 percent from five years ago. Continue reading MPAA Report Details Shifts in Home Entertainment Market

Spotify Appeals Copyright Rate Hike, Songwriters Respond

Spotify, the streaming music leader with 87 million global subscribers, is appealing the Copyright Royalty Board’s 2018 decision to raise songwriters’ pay rate by 44 percent over the next five years. Spotify is joined in this unprecedented move by Amazon, Google and SiriusXM/Pandora. Artists are furious, especially since Spotify portrayed itself as being on the side of creatives. Those appealing the Board’s decision say they’re against its complex rules. Apple is the sole company who stands to benefit from the fray. Continue reading Spotify Appeals Copyright Rate Hike, Songwriters Respond

Netflix Ups Its Monthly Subscription Prices For U.S. Viewers

Netflix is raising its subscription fees for all U.S. plans in May this year. The price hike, announced in January, was immediately applied to new customers and is being introduced to existing customers based on their billing cycle. The new price for its Standard plan, which offers two HD streams, will be boosted from $10.99 to $12.99, and the Premium plan, which includes up to four Ultra HD streams, will be raised from $13.99 to $15.99. The Basic plan for one non-HD stream is being increased for the first time, from $7.99 to $8.99. Continue reading Netflix Ups Its Monthly Subscription Prices For U.S. Viewers

Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

Amazon is reportedly planning to release wireless earbuds with built-in Alexa support as early as this year, according to those with knowledge of the project. The new wearable will be similar to Apple’s popular AirPods, and fit inside the user’s ear without clips, but Amazon team members at the company’s Lab126 hardware division are working on improving the audio quality. Users will be able to interact with the earbuds via voice and summon the digital assistant by saying “Alexa.” Pricing has not been revealed, but AirPods run $159 to $199, and Amazon has consistently charged less than competitors for its hardware. Continue reading Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

How Apple News+ Service Rates Among Other News Apps

Apple News+ is a service that makes an entire newsstand of content — including that of mainstream publications — available to subscribers. There are limits; a section from The Wall Street Journal, for example, only offers a handful of stories. However, Apple says a deeper search in WSJ’s News channel will reveal “everything from the last three days” thanks to an agreement with WSJ’s publisher Dow Jones. Apple stated News+ will evolve as publishers avail themselves of tools to create new reader experiences. The service will compete with apps including Flipboard, Nuzzel, SmartNews and others. Continue reading How Apple News+ Service Rates Among Other News Apps

Facebook CEO Calls For Increased Government Regulation

Mark Zuckerberg thinks tech companies, including Facebook, have “immense responsibilities.” Acknowledging the problems related to social media, he stressed that tech companies can’t solve all those problems on their own. Instead, he opined, the government and regulators need to play a stronger role. “By updating the rules for the Internet,” he said, “We can preserve what’s best about it.” He focused on four areas that he said should be regulated: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability. Continue reading Facebook CEO Calls For Increased Government Regulation

Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Facebook is under investigation by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for numerous potential civil and criminal violations. The Silicon Valley company, which denies the charges, said it is cooperating with law enforcement. The HUD investigation, the most recent, states that Facebook allowed advertisers to restrict who they target, based on race, religion and national origin. Continue reading Federal Agencies Investigate Facebook for Legal Violations

Apple Rolls Out New TV, Gaming, Finance, News Services

During yesterday’s highly anticipated “Show Time” event at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, CEO Tim Cook was joined by top execs and Hollywood heavyweights to unveil details regarding a new streaming TV service in addition to initiatives involving news, gaming and finance services. The Apple TV+ subscription service is slated to launch this fall in more than 100 countries. While cost and specific launch dates were not addressed, the event emphasized original programming and a collection of channel partners during a presentation that was similar to a traditional television upfront, including major celebrities and musical performances. Continue reading Apple Rolls Out New TV, Gaming, Finance, News Services

MPAA Announces Record Earnings in Global Entertainment

The Motion Picture Association of America revealed that the global entertainment market reached $96.8 billion in 2018, 9 percent over 2017 and a new record. Most notable was the growth of streaming video, 27 percent over 2017 to 613.3 million global subscriptions. Cable subscriptions, meanwhile, dropped 2 percent to 556 million subscribers, marking the first time that streaming bested cable (although cable still earns more money). Theatrical box office in the U.S. and Canada grew to $11.9 billion, while the overall global box office grew to $41.1 billion. Continue reading MPAA Announces Record Earnings in Global Entertainment

Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

The massive growth of streaming entertainment options may present a downside. According to Deloitte’s latest annual Digital Media Trends survey, 47 percent of U.S. consumers indicate they are becoming frustrated with the increasing number of subscriptions and services required to access the media content they want. In addition, 57 percent say they are also frustrated when their favorite movies and TV shows are no longer available due to the expiration of licensing agreements. There are more than 300 over-the-top options for video in the U.S. today, a number continuing to rise. Continue reading Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

Netflix Focuses on Worldwide Content as Model for Growth

Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings has publicly declared that streaming services from Apple and Disney are certain to feature some “great shows.” But he also stressed that he expects his company will do its “best job” facing such stiff competition. At the company’s Labs Day event, the media had a chance to “peek behind the scenes” to get an idea of what Netflix has in store for the future. As a hint, Netflix chief product officer Greg Peters noted that only 5 percent of the global population are native English speakers. Continue reading Netflix Focuses on Worldwide Content as Model for Growth

Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Amazon plans to sell video ads on its mobile shopping app, a direct challenge to Google and Facebook’s control of the $129 billion digital advertising sector. Sources report that the tech giant has been beta testing ads on the Apple iOS platform “for several months,” and that it plans to roll out ad sales on Google’s Android platform later in 2019. Searches on Amazon’s mobile app trigger relevant ads, making them more likely to lead to actual purchases. With this move, Amazon opens up a potentially lucrative revenue stream. Continue reading Amazon Testing Video Ads on its iOS Mobile Shopping App

Google Hopes its Stadia Will Become the Netflix of Gaming

At this week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, Google introduced Stadia, a service that streams video games from the cloud to smartphones, tablets or computers with a Chrome browser or a TV using a Chromecast Ultra device. Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said people watching a video game on YouTube could simply click to join it. The company did not state whether the service would be compatible with Apple devices. The service is slated to launch later in 2019. Gaming, dominated by consoles, brings in $130+ billion yearly. Continue reading Google Hopes its Stadia Will Become the Netflix of Gaming

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

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