HTC Vive Ships in April, Pricier Than Facebook’s Oculus Rift

HTC announced shipping and price details of its highly anticipated Vive virtual reality headset during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. In conjunction with Valve, HTC will begin shipping the VR headset in early April. At $799, Vive will be $200 more than its rival Oculus Rift. Pre-orders for the goggle-like headset, two wireless controllers, and two room scale movement sensors will begin on February 29 on HTC’s website. The pre-order bundle also comes with two games: “Fantastic Contraption” and “Job Simulator.” Continue reading HTC Vive Ships in April, Pricier Than Facebook’s Oculus Rift

Twitter Hopes to Attract Users with Improved Timeline Feature

Since Jack Dorsey returned last year as chief executive of Twitter, he has done everything he could think of to improve the company’s fortunes, including lay-offs, new executives and a board shake-up. Recent numbers, however, have shown that not much has changed — its monthly 320 million visitors in Q4 2015 are the same as the previous quarter. The pressure is on to find a formula that works, and Dorsey is betting that tweaking existing features and adding an algorithmic timeline might help sustain and build the user base. Continue reading Twitter Hopes to Attract Users with Improved Timeline Feature

Super Bowl 50: Live Streaming Way Up, But Social Media Down

CBS now has the numbers to back up its assertion that live streaming of Super Bowl 50 broke records: 3.96 million unique viewers via computers, tablets, OTT devices and mobile phones, consuming more than 402 million minutes of coverage, for an average of 101 minutes each; an average per minute audience of 1.4 million consumed more than 315 million minutes. Last year, says NBC, Adobe Analytics counted more than 1.3 million people streaming the game, with an average 800,000 viewers per minute and 213 million total minutes. Continue reading Super Bowl 50: Live Streaming Way Up, But Social Media Down

Verizon’s AOL Chief Exec Talks Potential Purchase with Yahoo

In December 2015, Verizon stated it was interested in acquiring all or some of Yahoo, which has been struggling for years with leadership changes and an inability to successfully exploit rising trends such as mobile. Now, Verizon has gone a step farther and given Tim Armstrong, chief executive of its AOL unit, the mandate to lead discussions with Yahoo about the potential for acquisition. Armstrong, a former Google sales executive, has known Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, also a former Google executive, for years. Continue reading Verizon’s AOL Chief Exec Talks Potential Purchase with Yahoo

Instagram Expands Spots to 60-Seconds, to Boost Ad Revenue

Instagram has extended its 30-second video ad format to 60-seconds, to capture more advertising dollars. T-Mobile, with a longer version of its Super Bowl ad featuring Drake, and Warner Bros., promoting its film “How To Be Single,” are the first to take advantage of the new advertising policy. By offering longer-form ads, Instagram is enabling advertisers to re-use existing ads rather than produce new ones for its specific requirements. Instagram users, however, can only post a maximum 15-second video. Continue reading Instagram Expands Spots to 60-Seconds, to Boost Ad Revenue

Pop Star Taylor Swift to Release Mobile Game Later This Year

Move over, Kim Kardashian. Taylor Swift is entering the mobile gaming space with the help of game publisher Glu Mobile, which has created popular games for Kim Kardashian and Katy Perry. Swift’s first mobile game is expected to be released in late 2016. The announcement gave investors some confidence and Glu Mobile’s stock jumped 29 percent in after-hours trading. Glu Mobile’s “Kim Kardashian: Hollywood” mobile game generated $43 million in its first three months. Continue reading Pop Star Taylor Swift to Release Mobile Game Later This Year

EU and U.S. Agree to Data Privacy Pact, Now Awaits Approval

After three months of often-tense meetings, Europe and the U.S. agreed to a pact to enable digital data to move back and forth across the Atlantic. Negotiating beyond the January 31 deadline, European and U.S. officials hammered out details of the “EU-US Privacy Shield,” which will enable Google, Amazon and thousands of other businesses to continue operations. But the agreement isn’t out of the woods: it still faces official approval by the EU’s 28 member states, and EU privacy advocates have vowed to oppose it. Continue reading EU and U.S. Agree to Data Privacy Pact, Now Awaits Approval

AOL’s Tim Armstrong Sees Major Growth in Mobile Ecosystem

Mobile will “rip through the Internet and traditional media,” says AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong, who was interviewed by Fortune editor Alan Murray at the MPA’s American Magazine Media Conference in New York. Armstrong, who’s been in his role since 2009, believes we’ll see dramatic growth in mobile over the next 30 years, dwarfing the Internet, which he previously thought was “the biggest thing to ever happen in my lifetime.” Verizon bought AOL last year for $4.4 billion. Continue reading AOL’s Tim Armstrong Sees Major Growth in Mobile Ecosystem

Apple Steps Up Its VR Efforts with Acquisition of Flyby Media

While Facebook, Google and Microsoft have already invested significant resources in developing virtual reality and augmented reality, Apple is just getting started. The tech giant acquired an augmented reality startup called Flyby Media, which develops technology for image-recognition on smartphones. Flyby Media previously worked with Google on “Project Tango.” Apple also hired Doug Bowman, an expert in human-computer interaction and immersion in virtual environments. Continue reading Apple Steps Up Its VR Efforts with Acquisition of Flyby Media

Facebook Launches Live Video, Starts to Develop VR Network

Facebook is turning on live streaming video broadcasting to what is potentially a nearly 1 billion-member base. With 934 million customers worldwide, Facebook will offer the live streaming capability first to iPhone users, with a global rollout over the next few weeks. The company has been testing this service with a handful of public figures for the last two months. At the same time, with chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s strong belief in the future potential of VR, Facebook is making strides in developing a network for it. Continue reading Facebook Launches Live Video, Starts to Develop VR Network

Amazon Doubles Market Value, Plans to Launch Music Service

Amazon’s growth is impressive — but it still, apparently, does not meet investors’ high expectations. With profits in Prime and Amazon Web Services, the company just delivered the largest quarterly profit in its 20-year history, but its shares plummeted 15 percent in after-hours trading, erasing more than $30 billion in market value. Shareholders were perhaps spooked by a 20.5 percent jump in operating costs, to $34.6 billion. Yet Amazon still out-performed other tech titans, including Alphabet, Apple and Facebook. Continue reading Amazon Doubles Market Value, Plans to Launch Music Service

Facebook Profits Skyrocket, Beating Wall Street Expectations

Facebook finished 2015 with a strong fourth quarter, with sales rising 52 percent from a year ago to $5.84 billion, and profit more than doubling from $701 million to $1.56 billion. The upswing beat Wall Street’s predictions for Q4 of $1.2 billion in profit on $5.37 billion in revenue. Investors rewarded the company by pushing its stock up more than 12 percent in after-hours trading. Responsible for the stupendous upward trend is mobile advertising, which soared to 80 percent of the company’s total ad business in Q4 2015. Continue reading Facebook Profits Skyrocket, Beating Wall Street Expectations

Facebook Makes Decision to Shutter Services Platform Parse

Facebook announced yesterday that it plans to shutter Parse, its toolkit and support platform for mobile developers the company hoped would serve the Internet of Things and lead to a cloud business that could compete with Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Parse provides developers with support and tools that enable programmers to write code rather than spend valuable time maintaining the back end. Users of the platform include developers at productivity app Quip and Expedia’s travel website Orbitz. The social giant paid a reported $85 million to acquire Parse in 2013. Continue reading Facebook Makes Decision to Shutter Services Platform Parse

Twitter Expands Video Ads to 30 Seconds, Adds a Skip Button

Twitter now offers 30-second pre-roll video ads, with an immediate skip option for viewers who don’t want to watch them. The ads run in front of videos that are part of Twitter’s Amplify program, a social television initiative for broadcasters to publish real-time in-tweet video clips accompanied by Twitter’s standard six-second ads. Twitter hopes the longer ads will re-energize the Amplify program, since six-second ads are a hurdle for media partners, which have an inventory of 15-second and 30-second ads. Continue reading Twitter Expands Video Ads to 30 Seconds, Adds a Skip Button

Viacom Teams with Canvs to Track Emotions on Social Media

Assessing and quantifying reaction to content and advertising on social media has been limited to the fuzzy capabilities of “sentiment analysis” tools that capture only generic positive and negative attitudes. Now, Viacom believes it’s found the perfect tool to do better. Media conglomerate Velocity’s marketing and creative content division teamed with tech startup Canvs, whose database of 4 million words and phrases — including millennial slang and social media shorthand — falls into 56 emotional categories. Continue reading Viacom Teams with Canvs to Track Emotions on Social Media

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