CTA Report: CE Industry Growth Is ‘Exceeding Expectations’

The Consumer Technology Association forecasts 3.2 percent growth for the U.S. CE industry this year, for a total estimated $321 billion in retail revenue. For the first time, drones, OLED TV and virtual reality tech are predicted to surpass the $1 billion revenue milestone, according to CTA’s latest “U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts” report. Smart home devices, wearables, 4K TVs and voice-controlled digital assistants are among the categories projected to experience significant increases. “Revenue growth in the consumer technology industry is exceeding expectations,” said Gary Shapiro, CTA president and CEO. Continue reading CTA Report: CE Industry Growth Is ‘Exceeding Expectations’

Facebook Develops Metered Paywall, Debuts Analytics Tool

Facebook is developing a metered paywall to drive viewers to subscribe to source publications of stories posted on Instant Articles. The move is in response to the social media platform’s tense relationship with publishers, who are losing viewership of stories on their own websites, as well as revenue. While sources say that discussions about the paywall are in the early stages, and testing won’t begin until October, Facebook is currently introducing a new analytics tool for publishers. Meanwhile, Amazon is now paying publishers and digital influencers to post to its new commerce-centric social network Spark. Continue reading Facebook Develops Metered Paywall, Debuts Analytics Tool

Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

Samsung’s digital voice assistant Bixby just arrived on millions of the company’s Galaxy S8 phones. According to Samsung head of mobile software R&D Injong Rhee, the inspiration for Bixby was super-hero Tony Stark (“Iron Man”), who only needs to voice orders to activate all kinds of systems. Similar to Stark, Samsung wants to use Bixby to activate all kinds of devices, from dishwashers to TVs. While Bixby cannot control all apps yet and, like other digital assistants has some limitations, early reviews suggest it excels at function-based commands. Continue reading Samsung Wants Bixby Assistant to Control Multiple Devices

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

Google Debuted AR First, But Apple About to Take the Lead

Alphabet’s Google began releasing augmented reality tools in 2014, but Apple now plans to put AR software in up to one billion mobile devices by the end of 2017. That is nearly certain to give Apple an advantage, since the company’s ecosystem will easily integrate devices and software. Google, with its Tango AR software system, has put AR in the Lenovo Phab 2 Pro and Asus ZenFone AR smartphones. Apple also just introduced its ARKit, which lets developers build AR apps for iPhones and iPads. Continue reading Google Debuted AR First, But Apple About to Take the Lead

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

Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

The Walt Disney Company announced 11 tech and media companies will receive funding and support as part of the Disney Accelerator program, now in its fourth year. The companies will be given access to work space at Disney’s L.A. creative campus and guidance from entertainment and media technology leaders. The 2017 class covers a range of compelling areas such as artificial intelligence, eSports, messaging, online learning, robotics, video games and virtual reality. Among the 11 startups are Epic Games, creator of Unreal Engine tech, and location-based VR firm The VOID. Continue reading Disney Selects 11 Companies for 2017 Accelerator Program

Echo Dot Leads the Charge for Amazon’s Record Prime Day

Amazon’s annual Prime Day proved to be a major success on Tuesday, breaking its own single-day sales record for the second consecutive year. According to the e-commerce giant, Prime Day sales surpassed those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with total sales figures more than 60 percent higher than the previous year’s event. Deals are reserved exclusively for Prime members, and the company signed more new members on July 11th than any other single day in its history. The Echo Dot smart speaker was the best-selling Amazon device as well as best-selling product from any manufacturer across all categories. Continue reading Echo Dot Leads the Charge for Amazon’s Record Prime Day

SenseTime Facial Recognition Firm Is Valued at $1.5 Billion

SenseTime Co., a Beijing-based startup founded in 2014 that sells its facial recognition systems to the Chinese police, just scored $410 million in new venture capital funding that values the company at more than $1.5 billion. The valuation, which makes the company a unicorn, underscores how such surveillance technologies are increasing in importance. Facial recognition breaks down a face into measurements that create a template, and SenseTime uses artificial intelligence to match faces against those in an image database. Continue reading SenseTime Facial Recognition Firm Is Valued at $1.5 Billion

Facebook Vies With YouTube for Digital Influencer Content

YouTube is where 1.5 billion people go every month to watch videos for more than an hour a day, and influencers such as brothers Jake Paul and Logan Paul have millions of followers and draw in lots of digital ads. Facebook makes it easier for videos to go viral, but hasn’t had much success in getting viewers to watch videos for more than a few minutes. In an effort to do so, Facebook has turned to live sports, making its own programs and a handful of stars who crave Facebook’s enormous reach more than YouTube’s monetization. Continue reading Facebook Vies With YouTube for Digital Influencer Content

Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Facebook is ramping up its social VR efforts through live video streaming. “Users of Facebook Spaces, the social hangout in virtual reality that the company launched earlier this year, can now broadcast via Facebook Live,” reports Variety. “The new feature essentially allows Spaces users to host a kind of virtual reality talk show, and stream it to all of their followers, even if those audiences are tuning in with a mobile phone or a desktop browser.” Slate will be the first to use the new feature to produce a weekly live show. Continue reading Facebook Introduces Live Video Broadcasting to Social VR

Stream-Ripping: Fastest Growing Form of Music Piracy in UK

According to new research by the Intellectual Property Office and PRS for Music, “stream-ripping” technology is the fastest-growing approach to music piracy in the United Kingdom. The research indicates a 141.3 percent increase in this type of illegal activity between 2014 and 2016. Stream-ripping apps and websites allow consumers to convert streaming content such as Spotify songs and YouTube videos into digital files that can be stored on mobile devices and computers. In September of 2016, such sites were accessed 498,681 times in the U.K., while BitTorrent was only used 23,567 times. Continue reading Stream-Ripping: Fastest Growing Form of Music Piracy in UK

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

Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

Ticketmaster has partnered with LISNR, a data-over-audio company, to use an ultrasonic sound technology on users’ smartphones to admit them to live events and track their movements. The technology, dubbed “smart tones,” transmits information between devices, and was recently used by Jaguar Land Rover so that mobile devices in different vehicles could communicate with one another. Ticketmaster is launching a new e-ticketing system called Presence, powered by LISNR tech, that it hopes will reduce entry wait times at live events. Continue reading Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

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

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