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

Apple 3D Sensor to Power Face Scanning, Replace Touch ID

According to sources close to the project, Apple is in development on a feature that will let users unlock their iPhones with facial recognition, to be released with the iPhone to go on sale later in 2017. Powered by a 3D sensor, the new security system will let users do a variety of tasks, including logging in, authenticating payments and launching security apps via face scanning. The 3D sensor is said to be able to unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds. Apple is also reportedly testing eye scanning technology. Continue reading Apple 3D Sensor to Power Face Scanning, Replace Touch ID

Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

Facebook wants to help mobile consumers locate accessible Wi-Fi networks by expanding its “Find Wi-Fi” option, initially launched last year on iOS in select countries. Facebook announced that the feature would be made available worldwide on both iOS and Android devices to help users find public Wi-Fi networks, useful when traveling or in areas where cellular data is scarce. This could help Facebook’s “2 billion monthly users stay connected to the network and spend more time in its app — something that directly impacts Facebook’s bottom line,” notes TechCrunch, and “the tool also serves as another way to discover local businesses” as a possible alternative to Google Maps. The feature can be found under the “More” tab in the Facebook app. Continue reading Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

‘Pokémon Go’ Is Still Popular: Passes $1.2 Billion in Revenue

According to the latest figures from Apptopia, mobile AR game sensation “Pokémon Go” has reached 752 million downloads and has earned more than $1.2 billion in revenue. The freemium game supports in-app purchases; total revenues for last year topped $950 million. The game “had about 60 million monthly players in June, with 20 percent of them opening the game at least once a day,” reports VentureBeat. “While that’s down from the app’s peak last August, which was at 100 million monthly users, it’s still a huge number.” Apptopia breaks down the game’s players: 57.4 percent are male, 38 percent are millennials (ages 19-34), and 32.5 percent are 18 or younger. Continue reading ‘Pokémon Go’ Is Still Popular: Passes $1.2 Billion in Revenue

AMC Announces the Launch of its Ad-Free Streaming Service

AMC is introducing AMC Premiere, its new $5 per month streaming service that offers commercial-free versions of current programs, movies, trailers, bonus scenes, and the ability to stream shows at the same time they air on television. However, the cable network is not targeting cord cutters yet. “For now at least, you have to be a pay TV subscriber to use AMC Premiere — and specifically, a Comcast Xfinity TV customer,” reports TechCrunch. “That’s because launch of the new service is currently tied to a deal with Comcast, whose Xfinity TV customers will be able to stream the service via their set-top boxes as well as the Xfinity Stream website and mobile app.” Continue reading AMC Announces the Launch of its Ad-Free Streaming Service

Facebook, Fox Sports Partner to Live Stream UEFA Soccer

Facebook will begin to live-stream more than a dozen UEFA Champions League soccer matches in September via a partnership with Fox Sports. The deal includes double-headers during the group stage, four round of 16 games and four quarterfinal matches. With the Champions League, Facebook adds a high-profile event to its growing lineup of live sports. The social giant is betting that live sports, which draw viewers to comment on social media platforms, will also be appealing to advertisers. Twitter, for example, has already committed to all-day live video programming. Continue reading Facebook, Fox Sports Partner to Live Stream UEFA Soccer

Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Social media giant Facebook announced it now has 2 billion monthly active users. The new milestone comes five years after reaching 1 billion users, and 13 years after Mark Zuckerberg first launched the platform. According to TechCrunch, Facebook leads social apps based on number of logged-in users, “above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.” Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger each have 1.2 billion users, while its Instagram photo-sharing app recently exceeded 700 million. Continue reading Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Mobile Commerce to Push App Economy Over $6T by 2021

According to a new report from App Annie, the app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion in five years, up from $1.3 trillion in 2016. The average consumer is not downloading more apps, but is spending more time and money in apps. The measurement firm predicts the number of worldwide app users will nearly double to 6.3 billion in 2021, and the time those individuals use apps will more than double. Ninety percent of last year’s total app economy was represented by the purchase of goods and services through mobile apps, a figure App Annie expects will increase to 95 percent by 2021. Continue reading Mobile Commerce to Push App Economy Over $6T by 2021

Antitrust Case: EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

The European Union issued a record-breaking $2.7 billion fine against Google yesterday for violating EU antitrust rules. Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for competition, announced that the seven-year investigation determined the U.S. tech giant had manipulated search results in order to place its own shopping service ahead of services offered by rivals, thereby creating an “illegal advantage.” Google now has up to 90 days to adjust its practices or potentially face additional penalties. The company is said to be considering an appeal. Continue reading Antitrust Case: EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

YouTube Debuts New Features, Plans More Original Content

At VidCon, YouTube introduced new feature upgrades, among them a redesign to mobile and desktop that allows the screen size to adjust to the video format playing, and a sharing feature, currently being tested in Canada that will soon debut in the U.S. and South America. YouTube is also pursuing virtual reality via a new format being created in partnership with Lenovo and LG. And the company reports that its Red Originals are proving successful (although it didn’t provide subscriber stats) and expanding to new markets. Continue reading YouTube Debuts New Features, Plans More Original Content

Fox Plans Six-Second Ad Format for Digital Platforms and TV

Fox Networks Group plans to introduce a six-second, unskippable ad format for digital and on-demand platforms by October. The new format, similar to an approach adopted by YouTube, could eventually be offered to traditional TV advertisers, following its testing phase. “TV ads are typically longer than 15 seconds, but as viewing shifts online, where people are skipping or blocking ads, advertisers and media companies have experimented with new ad formats and strategies,” reports The Wall Street Journal. Fox’s new format could be ideal as pre-roll ads before long-form episodes and premium sports content. Continue reading Fox Plans Six-Second Ad Format for Digital Platforms and TV

IKEA to Launch an AR App Based on Apple’s ARKit Platform

This fall, IKEA will roll out an augmented reality application for iPhones and iPads, using Apple’s ARKit platform. The company currently has teams of interior designers, professors and others in the Netherlands, Sweden and the U.S. working on the app, which is timed to go live with Apple’s launch of iOS 11 software. IKEA is not alone in realizing its customers could benefit from an app that allows them to envision how a couch will look in their living room; online furniture company Wayfair has also released an AR app. Continue reading IKEA to Launch an AR App Based on Apple’s ARKit Platform

Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

With its new Snap Map feature, now available on iOS and Android, Snapchat encourages friends to get together in real life instead of just digitally. Snap Map shares your current location via a map that updates when Snapchat is opened. The tech is based on Snap’s acquisition of social map app Zenly. Users can select specific friends for location sharing or disappear from the map via Ghost Mode. Tapping a friend’s “BitMoji avatar opens their Story to show what they’re up to, or lets you message them directly to make meetup plans,” explains TechCrunch. “Snap Map also gives users an alternative way to discover Story content beyond the well-worn Stories feed.” Continue reading Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

Snap, Time Warner Ink $100 Million Deal For Original Shows

Snap Inc. has inked a $100 million deal with Time Warner’s Turner cable channels and Warner Bros. studios for up to 10 original shows a year for the platform. The big studios and traditional TV companies see Snapchat as a way to reach its younger demographic, which is much less likely to subscribe to their premium channels. For example, HBO now has a path to creating content for Snapchat, and scripted drama and comedy are among the genres considered for distribution via the deal. Snap’s shows typically run three to five minutes. Continue reading Snap, Time Warner Ink $100 Million Deal For Original Shows

YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

YouTube creators who want to see specifically where people are looking in their 360-degree and VR videos are in luck. The company is introducing a new analytics tool that does just that, via heatmaps, available for any such videos that exceed 1,000 views. YouTube is also sharing tips on 360-degree videos aimed to help video producers. Making these videos is particularly challenging since viewers can watch in a variety of ways, including via a VR headset, the YouTube smartphone app or desktop web browsers, where they can rotate the video. Continue reading YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

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