Wearables at CES: Formerly Hot Sector Having Growing Pains

At CES in recent years, wearables were a surprise hit, with sophisticated fitness bands, fashion-forward bracelets and necklaces, smart fabric and watches. At CES 2018, at the Sands, about 50 manufacturers held court in the Wearables Marketplace, that featured wearables both tried-and-true and somewhat new. If nothing seemed to catch fire, it’s a reflection of what the 2018 CTA Consumer Tech Industry Forecast already revealed: wearables are flat, with a mere 1 percent growth in revenues over the last year. Continue reading Wearables at CES: Formerly Hot Sector Having Growing Pains

Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

NPR and Edison Research released a report this week indicating that about one in six Americans (39 million people) now own a smart speaker, up 128 percent from last January. “Amazon’s Echo speakers are still in the lead, the report says, as 11 percent now own an Amazon Alexa device compared with 4 percent who own a Google Home product,” reports TechCrunch. Amazon and Google promoted their devices heavily and cut prices during the holiday shopping season. “The Echo Dot became a top seller across its site and by manufacturers through the Black Friday weekend.” Continue reading Report: About 16 Percent of Americans Own Smart Speakers

Netflix Takes #1 Ranking for Top Non-Game App By Revenue

Sensor Tower lists Netflix as the top-earning app for 2017 (not counting mobile games). According to TechCrunch: “The service saw gross subscriber revenue of approximately $510 million — a 138 percent increase over last year. That’s about 2.4 times the $215 million users spent in the Netflix app in 2016.” In previous years, the #1 ranking was earned by Spotify and LINE. The annual report ranks apps and publishers available on the Apple App Store and Google Play. Top earners on Google Play included Tinder, Google Drive, LINE, Pandora, and HBO Now. Continue reading Netflix Takes #1 Ranking for Top Non-Game App By Revenue

Artificial Intelligence Front But Not Center at CES Trade Show

CES 2018 is out the gates, and, as expected, artificial intelligence is still very much present in products, conversations and conference panels. Still in its quest to become synonymous with AI, Nvidia did not disappoint at its press event Sunday and its “Autonomous Machines” keynote Tuesday morning. From doubling down on autonomous vehicles to AI-composed music (in partnership with Disney), to a technically impressive foray into intelligent video analytics to power smart cities, the CES darling is still — by far — the biggest AI enthusiast at the show. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence Front But Not Center at CES Trade Show

CES: Nvidia Stakes Claim to Automotive and Entertainment AI

In a roving two-hour presentation, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang unveiled a raft of products, partnerships and performance achievements at CES 2018. Focusing mostly on the automotive industry, Huang showed off the GPU giant’s new autonomous driving software stack powered by Xavier, a system-on-chip (SoC) for artificial intelligence-empowered car platforms, and touted partnerships with more than 320 car and truck companies. Huang also showcased a large HDR display for giant-screen, PC gaming and streamed an AI-generated motion picture theme composed in the style of “Star Wars” by John Williams. Continue reading CES: Nvidia Stakes Claim to Automotive and Entertainment AI

CES: Qobuz High-Res Music Service to Launch in U.S. in 2018

In mid-2018, Qobuz, a European online music streaming and downloading service, will be available in the U.S. The company, which claims it is “the highest resolution music streaming service in the world,” offers 40-million music tracks, among them one million high-resolution tracks. The service is compatible with Mac, iOS, Android and Windows operating systems. Qobuz also produces original editorial content including album reviews, bios, introductions to discographies and exclusive photos, art and videos. The company will showcase its service at CES in Las Vegas next week. Continue reading CES: Qobuz High-Res Music Service to Launch in U.S. in 2018

Music Publisher Files $1.6 Billion Copyright Suit Against Spotify

Wixen Music Publishing filed a $1.6 billion copyright lawsuit in a California federal court against popular music streamer Spotify. Wixen claims that the Stockholm-based service used thousands of songs — including those by the Doors, Tom Petty and Neil Young — without a direct or compulsory license and without compensating the music publisher. According to Reuters: “Wixen also alleged that Spotify outsourced its work to a third party, licensing and royalty services provider the Harry Fox Agency, which was ‘ill-equipped to obtain all the necessary mechanical licenses.’” Spotify, which has grown in value to $19 billion, recently filed IPO documents with the SEC. Continue reading Music Publisher Files $1.6 Billion Copyright Suit Against Spotify

Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, the world’s largest record company, has licensed its music catalog to Facebook. The deal, which focuses on the music in user-generated videos, covers songs that will be used in the background on videos and so-called social experiences on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Oculus. For Facebook, the deal is aimed at encouraging users to post more videos, key to the company’s current video-centric strategy. A day before this deal was struck, Universal also reached an agreement with YouTube. Continue reading Facebook, Universal Music Ink Licensing Deal for User Videos

CES 2018: Wide Array of Conference Tracks for M&E Industry

CES 2018 features 2.5 million net square feet of exhibit space that sprawls through the Las Vegas Convention Center, Sands Hotel and Casino, Aria Resort, Venetian, Monte Carlo, Renaissance, Westgate Resort, The Palazzo, Vdara and two Wynn properties. If your feet and brain rebel after walking the floor for hours, CES offers a great alternative: over 200 sessions on the industry’s most pressing issues and new technologies, featuring top creatives and executives. The 200 sessions are divided into topic-specific tracks. Continue reading CES 2018: Wide Array of Conference Tracks for M&E Industry

YouTube Signs Agreement With Universal, Sony Music Labels

After two years of negotiations, YouTube is finally inking a long-term pact with Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, the top two music labels. The new agreement, say the labels, establishes royalty rates for rights holders of professional music videos and user-loaded clips, offers stronger policing of uploads of copyrighted songs, and gives artists more money and flexibility. The deal is also a precursor to YouTube launching a paid music service early in 2018. Continue reading YouTube Signs Agreement With Universal, Sony Music Labels

Pandora Hopes to Convert Users with Free On-Demand Music

Pandora Media is launching free on-demand music with 15-second ads, in an effort to boost declining revenue and users. In doing so, it inches closer to rival Spotify’s model. According to one source, the user will be able to queue up 15 minutes, 30 minutes or an hour of specific songs for every ad watched; the company is still testing models that mix music and ads. By offering free songs in exchange for ads, Pandora hopes to entice listeners to sign up for its $9.99 per month Premium on-demand tier, which was introduced in March. Continue reading Pandora Hopes to Convert Users with Free On-Demand Music

FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

As anticipated, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines yesterday to repeal the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules, which were originally introduced to help protect an open Internet. FCC chair Ajit Pai and two other Republicans backed the change. Net neutrality rules were created as a means of regulating how broadband providers treat Internet traffic in an effort to avoid slowing content delivery or providing fast lanes for specific services. Dismantling the rules is seen as a win for cable and wireless providers and will likely result in lawsuits. Continue reading FCC Votes 3-2 to Roll Back 2015 Net Neutrality Regulations

Apple to Purchase Music Recognition App Shazam for $400M

Apple is purchasing Shazam Entertainment Ltd. for a reported $400 million. Shazam’s music recognition app, which lets users identify songs that are playing nearby, skyrocketed in popularity when it debuted in 2009, and has been downloaded more than one billion times. If the transaction is successful, Apple could integrate the Shazam feature into its iPhones, thereby helping the company gain an edge over the latest phones from Google and Samsung. Google already has a similar feature in its Pixel 2 smartphone. Continue reading Apple to Purchase Music Recognition App Shazam for $400M

YouTube Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

According to sources, YouTube will debut a paid music service in March, marking the third attempt by parent company Alphabet to compete with Spotify and Apple. Warner Music Group has reportedly already signed on to the new effort and discussions are underway with the other two major record labels, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, as well as Merlin, an alliance of independent labels. Apple and Spotify’s paid streaming music services have helped the music business grow after two decades of decline. Continue reading YouTube Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

Comcast, Charter Reportedly In Talks to Ink Deals With Hulu

Comcast and Charter Communications are reportedly in talks with Hulu to offer its on-demand content via their set-top boxes. Currently, Comcast offers Dish Network’s Sling TV, Netflix and YouTube with its X1 service, which offers voice-activated search for movies and TV shows. Comcast’s goal is to become a “one-stop shop” for digital video services, says company executive vice president Matt Strauss. Sources say that Charter is also on track to add Netflix via a new user interface for web video. Continue reading Comcast, Charter Reportedly In Talks to Ink Deals With Hulu

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