Google Takes On Siri, Opens its Assistant to Android Partners

Google is making Assistant available to all its Android partners, in an effort to entice more Apple iPhone customers. Introduced five months ago, Google Assistant, which answers questions, plays music and completes tasks, is showcased in a closer partnership with LG Electronics, announced at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. Up until now, Google’s Pixel smartphone, which was introduced in October, has been the only handset with Assistant. Apple’s iPhone will have its tenth anniversary this year. Continue reading Google Takes On Siri, Opens its Assistant to Android Partners

HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

At the HPA Tech Retreat, Thompson Coburn attorney Jim Burger delivered his annual Washington Update, opening with a clip of President Trump suggesting that his government is operating like a well-oiled machine. “I have nothing to say,” said Burger in response, reporting that Marco Rubio told him, “every day something is new in the Senate.” Burger’s update focused on intellectual property issues, including litigation, as well as actions of the FCC regarding net neutrality and set-top boxes, and the FAA regarding drones. Continue reading HPA Tech Retreat: Washington Update Examines IP, FCC, FAA

Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Apple is joining the ranks of Amazon and Netflix in creating original series specifically intended for online platforms. However, unlike its competitors, Apple does not have a devoted video platform, so it plans to create original content for its Apple Music streaming service that can be viewed on Apple TVs, iPads, iPhones and other devices. So far, Apple is developing a reality series called “Planet of the Apps” and a standalone series based on James Corden’s popular “Carpool Karaoke.” Continue reading Apple to Roll Out Original Video Programming via Apple Music

Facebook Negotiates with Music Industry Over Video Content

Facebook is doubling down on inking agreements with music industry publishers, labels and trade associations, with the goal of accessing user-generated videos that include songs and, ultimately, the labels’ own professionally produced videos. Facebook’s main rival is Google’s YouTube. From the music industry point of view, a deal with Facebook could bring substantial revenues from its 2 billion users and growing advertising division, as well as create a bargaining chip in negotiations with YouTube. Continue reading Facebook Negotiates with Music Industry Over Video Content

EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy Concerns Film/TV Industry

To help create a unified digital market, the European Union just agreed to so-called portability, which will allow subscribers to access their online services as they travel from one EU country to another. When the EU introduced its Digital Single Market (DSM) in May 2015, Europe’s film/TV industry, which licenses its content territory-by-territory, promptly opposed it, especially the provision that would allow people in the EU to buy content on other countries’ digital platforms. The Motion Picture Association of America shares these concerns. Continue reading EU’s Digital Single Market Strategy Concerns Film/TV Industry

How Apple Music Differentiates Itself in a Competitive Market

Since Jimmy Iovine came to Apple in 2014 to revivify Apple Music, the company spent $3 billion to buy Iovine and Dr. Dre’s streaming and headphones company, and doubled its subscriber base from 10 million to 20 million users by 2016. Each user pays a base fee of $10/month. The leap upward is impressive, but the total number of subscribers is still much less than the subscriber bases at Spotify, YouTube and Pandora, all of which offer free, ad-supported versions of their streaming services. Continue reading How Apple Music Differentiates Itself in a Competitive Market

Stem’s Royalty Model Finds Popularity with Indie Music Scene

Debuting a year ago, Stem has become successful distributing the music of independent artists to streaming services and divvying up royalties among the multiple collaborators that are typical in indie music. Up until Stem’s appearance, alternative distribution companies like TuneCore and CD Baby distributed indie music, but weren’t able to split royalties between artists and producers, leaving that onerous task to the main performer. Instead, Stem requires each collaborator to agree on percentage splits. Continue reading Stem’s Royalty Model Finds Popularity with Indie Music Scene

Enjoying Healthy Profits, Amazon Turns to Investment, Growth

Amazon has typically chosen revenue growth and investments over profits, but in Q4, profit rose 55 percent to $749 million, while revenue increased 22 percent to $43.7 billion. The company has enjoyed seven consecutive profitable quarters. While brick-and-mortar sales reported disappointing sales during the holiday season, Amazon won an estimated 42 percent of total holiday online spending growth during that quarter. The company is about to invest heavily, having pledged to create 100,000 full-time jobs by mid-2018. Continue reading Enjoying Healthy Profits, Amazon Turns to Investment, Growth

SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

Twelve-year old audio recognition company SoundHound just raised $75 million to build its speech recognition AI-based platform, Houndify, betting that voice will become the dominant form of interaction with Internet-connected devices. Although large companies like Apple, Baidu and Microsoft dominate the space, SoundHound has built its own AI technology to identify audio. In contrast to these other companies, SoundHound also plans to offer its voice AI tools to other device manufacturers. Continue reading SoundHound Raises $75M to Advance AI Speech Recognition

Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Internet service providers, Hollywood studios and record labels have opted not to extend their pact to combat peer-to-peer piracy via the voluntary program that involved issuing “copyright alerts” to offenders. The voluntary program was launched in 2013 as a means of fighting piracy without calling for congressional legislation. Internet users who accessed pirated P2P content were issued warnings, and “six-strike” repeat offenders faced penalties such as the slowing of their Internet delivery. In the end, however, the system was not equipped to deal with hardcore repeat infringers. Continue reading Media Industry Opts to Pull the Plug on Copyright Alert System

Sprint Buys One-Third of Jay Z’s Troubled Tidal Music Service

Sprint bought a one-third stake in Jay Z’s streaming music service Tidal, after beginning discussions in April 2015. Sprint has not offered details on how much it paid or what the partnership entails, although it says that its subscribers will now have access to Tidal content and that Tidal and its artists will create content specifically for them. Jay Z has stated that he and Sprint share the view of allowing artists to connect directly with fans. Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure will join the Tidal board of directors. Continue reading Sprint Buys One-Third of Jay Z’s Troubled Tidal Music Service

Alexa, Google Assistant Beset by Zombie Apps, Low Retention

VoiceLabs just released a report that shows Amazon Echo and Google Home, holiday season hits, have problems to overcome in order to achieve mainstream acceptance. Its data reveals only 3 percent of users who enable an Alexa or Google Assistant voice app become active users by the second week, and, of the 7,000+ Alexa Skills voice apps, 69 percent have zero or one customer review, a sign of low to no usage. In comparison, Android and iOS apps have 13 percent and 11 percent retention rates respectively after one week. Continue reading Alexa, Google Assistant Beset by Zombie Apps, Low Retention

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

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