Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Apple plans to focus on a new business in original TV shows and movies, say sources. The content would be available to subscribers of Apple Music, the company’s $10/month streaming music service, which continues to be an underdog to Spotify. In the wake of slowing iPhone and iPad sales, Apple has been casting about for a new source of revenue; recently, it has been in discussions with Hollywood producers to buy the rights to scripted TV programs and is trying to hire studio/network marketers to promote the content. Continue reading Apple Makes an Original Content Play to Beef Up Apple Music

Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Walmart is expected to cut about 1,000 jobs by the end of January, before the close of its fiscal year. “The plans mark one of Walmart’s largest rounds of corporate job cuts as it works to preserve profits while making the company more efficient and responsive to fast-changing consumer behaviors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to CEO Doug McMillon, the company’s chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, will step down in February. Other retailers have been making similar moves; Macy’s recently announced it would close stores and cut 10,000 jobs. Walmart is working to fend off Amazon and smaller discounters. The retail giant purchased Jet.com in September, and its founder, Marc Lore, took over the e-commerce business. Continue reading Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

LG Goes Big on Wi-Fi-Connected Appliances, Robots at CES

At CES 2017, LG stated that this year all of its home appliances will include “advanced Wi-Fi connectivity.” One flagship product is its Internet-connected Smart InstaView Refrigerator that supports Amazon’s Alexa; no price has been announced. Features of the webOS appliance include stickers and tags to be attached to items in the refrigerator, which will signal the consumer when a food item in question is about to expire, and the ability to remotely view the inside of the refrigerator via a camera mounted inside. Continue reading LG Goes Big on Wi-Fi-Connected Appliances, Robots at CES

New Name for Yahoo After Verizon Sale, CEO to Leave Board

Yahoo announced that board members, including CEO Marissa Mayer and co-founder David Filo, would step down from the board of directors once the company’s core Internet assets are sold to Verizon. What remains of the company after the sale is completed would be renamed Altaba (combining “alternate” and “Alibaba”). “Altaba’s remaining assets include Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Yahoo Japan,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Board member Eric Brandt, former CFO of Broadcom, will become Altaba’s chairman. Mayer “is expected to remain with Yahoo once it becomes part of Verizon.” The deal will cost Verizon about $4.8 billion, unless terms are changed due to two recent high-profile hacks of user data.  Continue reading New Name for Yahoo After Verizon Sale, CEO to Leave Board

Facebook to Show Video Ads, Share Revenue with Publishers

Facebook is planning tests of a new mid-roll ad format that would enable participating video publishers to insert ads at least 20 seconds into video clips on the social platform. To start, Facebook plans to sell the ads and share 55 percent of revenue with publishers (the same deal offered by online video ad leader YouTube). According to Facebook, its users watch 100 million hours of video per day. However, publishers have seen little or no revenue from their clips since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has not allowed pre-roll video ads. Continue reading Facebook to Show Video Ads, Share Revenue with Publishers

Streaming Music Surpasses Digital Downloads for First Time

According to Nielsen, streaming officially became the primary means of consuming music in the U.S. during 2016. “Overall on-demand audio streams surpassed 251 billion in 2016 — a 76 percent increase that accounts for 38 percent of the entire music consumption market,” reports Pitchfork. For the first time, on-demand audio streaming has surpassed sales of digital albums + digital track equivalents. An average day saw 1.2 billion streams, compared to a total of 734 million downloads for the entire year. Rock is the most popular genre, representing 29 percent of consumption (but only 20 percent of streaming), while hip-hop and R&B make up 22 percent of total consumption (but an industry-leading 28 percent of streaming).

Continue reading Streaming Music Surpasses Digital Downloads for First Time

Sea Change in Guest Experience Announced by Carnival CEO

When CTA announced Carnival Corporation, the world’s largest leisure travel company, as the opening keynote of CES 2017, it was reasonable to anticipate a major announcement and speculate that the defined characteristics of cruise ships and travelers could be a proving ground for smart tech and the promise of IoT technologies. This morning, Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, introduced the development of Ocean Medallion, what he described as “the world’s first interactive guest experience platform capable of transforming vacation travel into a highly personalized and elevated level of customized service.” Continue reading Sea Change in Guest Experience Announced by Carnival CEO

First Impressions of CES 2017: Where is All the Data Going?

CES is always a data scientist’s nightmare, and this year is no different. Why? It’s simple. The hardware vision we’re being served (24/7 connection with everything) immediately triggers one critical question: Where will all this data go? How will this comically fragmented data be integrated in a way that creates value for your lives, our families, our organizations? The central conundrum of wearables and IoT, which we see nowhere here, is that the firehose of data created by these devices can only create value if merged together in a way that’s (a) central, (b) safe, and (c) relevant to our lives. Emphasis on (c), of course. Continue reading First Impressions of CES 2017: Where is All the Data Going?

Fitness Wearables Evolve from 10,000 Steps to New Features

Fitness wearables have exploded in number over the last two to three years. The industry has seen some consolidation, and predictions just prior to CES 2017 were that wearables were no longer the hot category of yesteryear. A panel on fitness trackers, moderated by KTLA-TV reporter Rich DeMuro (himself the owner of multiple fitness trackers), proved that assessment to be simplistic. Fitness trackers in particular are evolving beyond 10,000 steps into new territory, including the ability to intelligently track your heart rate. Continue reading Fitness Wearables Evolve from 10,000 Steps to New Features

Sling TV to Offer Local Broadcasts, Streaming via AirTV Player

Streaming TV service Sling TV is debuting its own TV tuner box, according to news on the company’s website. The AirTV Player features the ability to receive local over-the-air TV channels via a digital antenna, as well as Sling TV’s standard streaming services, with optional Netflix. EchoStar’s Sling Media subsidiary and Dish’s Sling TV appear to have collaborated on the AirTV box, since “AirTV Player” and its logo are copyrighted by EchoStar. By offering local channels, AirTV might encourage more viewers to cut the cord. Continue reading Sling TV to Offer Local Broadcasts, Streaming via AirTV Player

SkyLights and Gogo Bring Personal Entertainment to Airlines

People are accustomed to accessing on-demand video at will, so a flight on an airplane with a communal TV screen can be jolting. Now, startup SkyLights aims to let airline passengers don a virtual reality headset to watch the latest 3D Hollywood movies. French entrepreneur David Dicko’s company offers a headset with six-hour battery life and noise-canceling headphones, which has been tested on flights for almost one year. French carrier XL Airways will soon begin to offer SkyLights headsets for rent, at $16 per flight. Continue reading SkyLights and Gogo Bring Personal Entertainment to Airlines

Snapchat’s Strategy Behind Rebuffing Influencers, Celebrities

Many social networks have thrived on creating relationships with celebrities and influencers, but Snapchat prefers to treat them like ordinary users — so much so that its terms of service prohibit users from getting paid to post. The aim is to provide users a more authentic, less product-promoting experience. It’s also Snapchat’s strategy for differentiating its platform, thus better attracting advertisers that prefer the credibility of an “authentic experience” to influencer endorsements of products. Continue reading Snapchat’s Strategy Behind Rebuffing Influencers, Celebrities

Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

The FCC announced that Tom Wheeler will resign his chair position on January 20. The Obama appointee led the agency for the last three years. It is customary for the chairperson to resign when there is a new administration. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s nomination for another term was also impacted last week by the Senate’s decision not to vote prior to adjourning for the year. Rosenworcel is expected to step down by the end of December. President-elect Donald Trump will have two FCC seats to fill, one from each major party. Meanwhile, the departures leave the agency with two Republican commissioners and one Democratic commissioner. Continue reading Departure of FCC’s Tom Wheeler Could Impact Net Neutrality

Nintendo Releases Super Mario Franchise on iPhones, iPads

Nintendo is finally releasing its super-popular Super Mario franchise to iPhones and iPads. Although the Super Mario games have been available on Nintendo portable devices since the early 1980s, this marks the first time that the company has released them to mobile devices made by another company, in this case Apple. With more than a half-billion copies sold since he first appeared in “Donkey Kong” in 1981, the iconic mustachioed plumber is believed to be the best-selling game franchise ever. Continue reading Nintendo Releases Super Mario Franchise on iPhones, iPads

CES Will Showcase Differential Privacy for Autonomous Living

At CES 2017, Honda’s theme will be a “cooperative mobility ecosystem,” a confluence of last year’s two showstoppers: autonomous driving and the rise of artificial intelligence. These arenas could foster mass adoption of differential privacy. Data aggregation is critical to the success of autonomous driving, and the AI-centric, newly coined notion of autonomous living, but this collection requires user buy-in. With nearly half of all Internet users expressing that privacy and security concerns are limiting their use of the Internet, new means of protecting user data will be a key theme throughout CES. Continue reading CES Will Showcase Differential Privacy for Autonomous Living

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