CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the Consumer Technology Association outlined the CTA’s projections for retail holiday sales. Anticipating a 3.1 percent increase over 2015 in consumer holiday spending on tech, top product categories include televisions, laptops and smartphones. Emerging categories such as wearables, drones and VR headsets are also projected to have a strong showing this season. DuBravac noted the top five tech trends to watch for at January’s CES: vocal computing, intelligent systems connecting diverse objects, self-driving cars and driver-assist technologies, artificial intelligence, and VR and AR entertainment. Continue reading CTA Predicts Black Friday Will Be a ‘Record Breaker for Tech’

Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

Insiders report that Apple is working on a pair of wireless digital glasses that would connect to iPhones and possibly use augmented reality. “While still in an exploration phase,” reports Bloomberg, “Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers” and “the company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing.” According to those familiar with the concept, Apple isn’t ready for mass production and, if it moves forward with the eyewear, we shouldn’t expect to see a product until 2018. Chief exec Tim Cook, under pressure to make up for waning iPhone sales, has expressed interest in AR following the success of “Pokémon Go.” Continue reading Apple Considers AR Tech for Wireless Digital Glasses Project

Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

As Apple reportedly scales back its automotive plans, South Korean smartphone competitor Samsung is pushing into the emerging market with its $8 billion acquisition of luxury audio and connected car leader Harman. Auto connectivity has been a “strategic priority” for Samsung, and the transaction will provide the company with infotainment, telematics, security and safety solutions by Harman that are currently found in 30 million vehicles. Samsung also recently expressed interest in paying more than $3 billion for Fiat Chrysler’s Magneti Marelli autoparts business. Continue reading Samsung Bets on Automotive with $8 Billion Harman Purchase

Facebook’s Instagram Plans to Integrate Live Video Streaming

According to Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing site plans to add live video streaming. Systrom believes live video could help strengthen user relationships; however, he did not specify how or when Instragram would introduce the feature. “Reports indicate that Instagram has already been testing live video streaming with some of its users, displaying live streams from contacts similar to the way it currently surfaces the recently-launched Instagram Stories feature,” explains Variety. Introduced in August, Instagram Stories is similar to Snapchat in that its images and videos disappear after 24 hours. Continue reading Facebook’s Instagram Plans to Integrate Live Video Streaming

Attention Brands: Internet Users Prefer Mobile to Desktop PCs

In a new first, Internet monitoring firm StatCounter reports that more consumers are accessing the Internet from their mobile and tablet devices (51.2 percent) than from their desktop PCs (48.7 percent). According to TechCrunch, “this means going forward, companies that haven’t yet decided to focus on a mobile-first approach to their Internet services and Web properties really should, as the trend line is unlikely to reverse.” Mobile platforms are by far the method of choice for accessing the Internet in emerging markets such as India, while the gap is narrower in more mature markets like the U.S. and U.K. As of May, Google noted that more searches conducted through its engine originated from mobile platforms than desktop. Continue reading Attention Brands: Internet Users Prefer Mobile to Desktop PCs

Watching Video on Mobile Devices Increases 85% Since 2010

According to the seventh annual edition of the Ericsson ConsumerLab TV & Media Report, the weekly amount of time that consumers spend watching TV and video via mobile devices has increased 85 percent over the last six years. The report notes that 1.1 billion consumers now use their smartphones or other connected mobile devices to watch streaming video. Average time watching mobile video has jumped more than 200 hours a year since 2012. Overall TV and video viewing is up 1.5 hours per week, while there has been a 2.5 hour per week decline in television fixed screen viewing. Continue reading Watching Video on Mobile Devices Increases 85% Since 2010

Intel Eyes Future Beyond PC Chips, Buys VR Company Voke

Intel is acquiring Santa Clara-based Voke, a small company that develops virtual reality tech. While most VR “software is based on animated scenes,” notes The Wall Street Journal, “Voke developed a system called TrueVR that uses sets of paired cameras and software that help capture live images and simulate the sensation of three-dimensional space for viewers with computer displays or virtual-reality headsets.” Voke helps broadcasters capture and stream live events such as sports and fashion shows to provide users with multiple angles. Earlier this year, Intel announced plans to purchase Replay Technologies and its 3D video tech used for sports broadcasting. Continue reading Intel Eyes Future Beyond PC Chips, Buys VR Company Voke

Instagram Introduces a Test Version of E-Commerce Feature

In May, Instagram designers, engineers and product managers brainstormed ideas on how to make shopping work in the app. Now, six months later, they’re introducing the winning idea: Brands can tag products in their photos, much the way users tag friends. A single tap will reveal more information about the product, and another tap will send you to the retailer’s site to buy the product. After the launch, Instagram will gather data from how consumers use the new feature to improve it. Continue reading Instagram Introduces a Test Version of E-Commerce Feature

Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Digital music services have a problem introducing new songs: Fans prefer music they’ve heard before, and can easily skip a song they don’t know. A radio station can promote a new song by repeatedly playing it, but up until now digital services haven’t had many tools to boost new song popularity. Now, Pandora has debuted a toolset that lets an artist introduce a new song with an audio message to fans. It worked for R&B singer Jill Scott, who was able to boost the popularity of a new song by 30 percent that way. Continue reading Pandora’s Promotional Tools Help Artists Market New Songs

Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

In its Q3 results, Alphabet revealed that, of its Other Bets initiatives, two Google projects — the cloud and artificial intelligence — have proven to be the most successful; both are on track to expand in the next year. Amazon is still the leader in cloud services, with a 55 percent gain representing $3.2 billion, and Microsoft is another major technology company rivaling Google. But Alphabet has made it clear that it is doubling down on both cloud and AI, even as it retreats from Google Fiber Internet and Nest connected-home tech. Continue reading Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

Twitter Struggles with Financial Stability, Shutters Vine Videos

Despite announcing a better-than-expected Q3 earnings report with revenue of $616 million, up 8 percent year-over-year, Twitter confirmed that it plans to lay off 9 percent of its employees, reports Recode. In a blog post that surprised many, the company also announced that it would discontinue its Vine mobile app for sharing short videos. (The website will remain online so fans can watch the Vines already created.) Vine has recently experienced a mass exodus as influencers have transitioned to Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube. Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that Twitter could be up for sale sometime soon. Continue reading Twitter Struggles with Financial Stability, Shutters Vine Videos

Qualcomm Agrees to Buy NXP Semiconductors for $39 Billion

Qualcomm, known for its mobile processors and wireless modems, has agreed to purchase NXP Semiconductors for $39 billion. Including debt, the acquisition is valued at $47 billion, representing the largest semiconductor deal to date. The agreement exceeds the Avago Technologies $37 billion deal to buy Broadcom Corp. In terms of pure tech deals, the agreement lands behind only Dell’s $60 billion purchase of EMC. Dutch company NXP, formerly Philips Semiconductors, is a leader in the growing automotive-chip market, and Qualcomm wants to supply its chips for autonomous vehicles. Continue reading Qualcomm Agrees to Buy NXP Semiconductors for $39 Billion

For NBA Digital, the Television Set is Now the Second Screen

On the heels of NBA Digital’s announcement that it would stream one live game optimized for VR per week, on Tuesday, the NBA will introduce another feature: “Mobile View,” which offers a tighter zoom on the action for better viewing on phones and tablets. Games will be shot with different cameras to enable Mobile View, which will be available to subscribers of NBA League Pass, Team Pass, and even those who stream single games. Mobile View will be in preview for a week during League Pass’ trial period. Continue reading For NBA Digital, the Television Set is Now the Second Screen

DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Shortly after the Time Warner acquisition made headlines, AT&T announced that its streaming TV service, launching next month, will offer 100-plus channels for $35 per month. The company previously suggested that DirecTV Now would not undercut cable. “It’s clear what customers want. They want premium content in a mobile environment,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “Our goal is to drive prices down.” The move can also be seen as a way to generate support for the Time Warner deal. “Regulators will heavily scrutinize the proposed merger of two such large and influential companies, but the pair are insistent that the deal benefits consumers,” reports Wired. “Certainly, Internet television benefits consumers.” Continue reading DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certification of WiGig Devices, Routers

WiGig, a super-fast Wi-Fi standard, will appear next year in “marquee” smartphones and laptops certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The Alliance, which is also certifying routers and other devices, says WiGig only works over a distance of about 33 feet (10 meters), meaning its use will be limited to devices within range of a WiGig router. But WiGig might be an ideal technology for virtual reality headsets, which currently need to be tethered to a PC or game console with thick cables, thus limiting movement in a VR experience. Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certification of WiGig Devices, Routers

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