Mossberg Questions the Direction of Streaming TV Services

Streaming TV is now mainstream, with even cable and satellite subscribers paying for services such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. Television networks also make their fare available for streaming via apps or smart TVs. But the typical streaming service model — whereby the subscriber doesn’t pay for a fat bundle of disparate channels and a DVR — is changing. Dish Network’s Sling TV and AT&T’s DirecTV Now, nominally streaming services, offer bundles of TV networks delivered in a linear fashion, just like cable or satellite. Journalist/author Walt Mossberg is concerned by the change.  Continue reading Mossberg Questions the Direction of Streaming TV Services

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

Streaming Services Top Chart of Apps Earning Most Revenue

When examining top apps based on revenue (outside of games), streaming services dominated 2016. Sensor Tower lists Spotify as the top earner, generating the most revenue across platforms, including Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Android chat app LINE took the second spot, followed by Netflix, Tinder, Pandora and HBO Now. Hulu ranked No. 7 on the App Store and No. 9 in overall revenue. “The list indicates that the trend toward cord cutting … is still going strong, as is the growth of subscription-based streaming of music,” reports TechCrunch. However, translating app success into profits remains a challenge for some (Pandora is laying off 7 percent of its workforce, despite touting more than 4.3 million subscribers). Continue reading Streaming Services Top Chart of Apps Earning Most Revenue

Samsung Updates Smart Hub with Emphasis on Sports, Music

Searching for and organizing content is a fact of life with smart TVs. Samsung has updated its Smart Hub to make that experience — on the TV and smartphone — much easier, especially with regard to sports and music. The company demonstrated its new Smart Hub “experience” at CES 2017. The user no longer needs to search for where his or her favorite team can be found on OTA channels and streaming services. Instead, the user tells the Hub what teams he follows, and the Smart TV will give him channels, schedules and scores. For music, Samsung’s Hub now offers Shazam. Continue reading Samsung Updates Smart Hub with Emphasis on Sports, Music

Emotech Demos Olly: Your Lifestyle Assistant with Personality

At CES last week, Emotech, a UK-based startup, introduced a desktop robotic assistant named Olly that develops a unique personality depending on individual users and their interactions with it. The doughnut-shaped, voice-controlled personal assistant is similar in function to the other smart lifestyle assistants. It will play you music or tell you the weather like Amazon’s Alexa, but the company hopes Olly’s personality will set it apart. The device has two cameras and a microphone array, allowing it to face the user, and will use a combination of AI techniques to decipher a user’s state of mind and respond accordingly. Continue reading Emotech Demos Olly: Your Lifestyle Assistant with Personality

Samsung’s QLED TV Line Claims 100 Percent DCI-P3 Color

Samsung unveiled a new line of TVs at CES, dubbed QLED, which replaces its two-year old SUHD premium line-up. QLED offers better viewing angles, HDR, and 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space as well as improved black levels. The Samsung Q7, Q8 and Q9 QLED models can be mounted flush with the wall, using the company’s proprietary mounting system. Two tabletop stands, made of stainless steel and aluminum, include an easel-style floor stand. A new fiber-optic system makes the connecting cable almost invisible. Continue reading Samsung’s QLED TV Line Claims 100 Percent DCI-P3 Color

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

Bluewave Showcases GET: 24-Bit Hi-Fi Headphone Amplifier

During CES, Montreal-based Bluewave privately showed the first Bluetooth aptX HD wireless headphone amplifier. The high-powered, high-fidelity, 24-bit portable solution allows any standard headset to receive near wired quality of the new aptX HD methodology. It also features an onboard MEMS microphone to add telephone conversations to a favorite production headset with the added boost of Bluetooth portability. The $100 GET is truly portable and ultra-compact (45mm x 22mm x 10mm) and weighs only 30 grams. Continue reading Bluewave Showcases GET: 24-Bit Hi-Fi Headphone Amplifier

Companies Showcase Next Wave of AR and VR at CES 2017

The primary takeaway from the companies showing in the AR and VR Marketplaces in LVCC South Hall was that many new products look similar to last year’s devices, but they offer significant improvements that will make the experience they deliver more compelling. Mobile VR headsets are finding ways to capture lean-in movement, blurring the difference between new offerings and the high-end VR HMDs such as Oculus Rift and HTC Vive. AR glasses are getting lighter, clearer and brighter. And startups are exploring opportunities to bring VR and AR experiences into current social media platforms and build on media sharing habits. At CES this week, we learned compelling news from the likes of ODG, Zeiss, Lumus, Vuzix, DTS and others. Continue reading Companies Showcase Next Wave of AR and VR at CES 2017

Roku Readies 4K HDR Platform, Announces New TVs at CES

Roku is introducing new hardware at CES this week, including a number of 4K TVs featuring Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range). The company, whose app platform is now the basis of 13 percent of smart TVs sold in the U.S., has partnered with Element Electronics on Roku TVs expected to hit shelves later this year. TCL, which uses the Roku TV program for all its smart TVs, is also introducing new Roku-based 4K HDR TVs. And Hisense unveiled its H4 series, the company’s first 4K HDR Roku TVs. Dish, Dolby, Element, Hisense, Hitachi and TCL are among the vendors showcasing Roku TVs in Las Vegas. Continue reading Roku Readies 4K HDR Platform, Announces New TVs at CES

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

Apple Cuts Fees Charged to Streaming Services in App Store

Apple is halving the amount it charges streaming services to sell video on its App Store, in response to widespread discontent among content partners. Earlier, Apple tried unsuccessfully to create its own live TV service, but instead released an app that relies on programs from streaming services including HBO, Hulu and Showtime. Apple is now cutting its share from 30 percent to 15 percent. Some non-video apps will also dip to 15 percent after the customer has been a subscriber for a year. Continue reading Apple Cuts Fees Charged to Streaming Services in App Store

Hulu Acquires The VGP to Improve Recommendation Options

Hulu just bought the assets of The Video Genome Project (The VGP), whose technology automatically aggregates metadata around video content, classifies it into subgenres and then uses the data to connect titles. The VGP makes connections beyond obvious criteria such as genre, director or cast. Hulu says a “small team” from The VGP will join the company, and, with this technology, Hulu will be able to offer classifications similar to Netflix’s more granular offerings, such as “Action Sci-Fi & Fantasy Based on Books.” Continue reading Hulu Acquires The VGP to Improve Recommendation Options

Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

Google just released Home, a smart speaker that competes directly with the recently introduced Amazon Echo, powered by the virtual assistant Alexa. Since its release, Amazon’s Echo has been a hit, as users have relied on it for everything from a home automation tool to kitchen companion and shopping assistant. Now, the two products, from two technology behemoths, will face off in the marketplace. These devices are still early in their development, and the virtual assistants powering them offer limited abilities. Continue reading Comparing Newly Released Google Home with Amazon Echo

Alibaba Expands Alipay, Creates Media Entertainment Group

China’s Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holdings, is building a global network of merchants that accept its payment services via the Alipay mobile payments app. Ant Financial just announced a partnership with the online-payments arm of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group, meaning that Chinese tourists can use their familiar payment app there. Alibaba has also launched its new Digital Media and Entertainment Group as the company continues its push into movies, online video, music, gaming and more. Continue reading Alibaba Expands Alipay, Creates Media Entertainment Group

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