AMC, Regal Debut Mobile Apps to Pre-Order Popcorn, Drinks

Movie theaters make their primary living at the concession stands, so it’s no surprise that the next trend at the local multiplex is aimed at making it easier to buy popcorn. AMC Theatres (about 350 theaters) and Regal Entertainment (570 theaters), the largest multiplex chains in North America, just debuted a way for customers to preorder and prepay for food and drinks via a smartphone app. The goal is to reduce what the chains call the “popcorn pinch point,” and reduce or eliminate the line at the concession stand. Continue reading AMC, Regal Debut Mobile Apps to Pre-Order Popcorn, Drinks

Google Hones Mobile Search with More Music, TV, Movie Info

Google already offers information on music, TV and movies, but with a new update, Google search will offer more structure to a broader range of information, including recommendations on songs, TV shows, movies and more. For example, a search for a singer will produce tabs on her songs, albums, upcoming events, and a link to listen to her music on YouTube, Spotify, Google Play Music and iHeartRadio. The update is now available to mobile users on Android phones and tablets, and will be available for iOS soon. Continue reading Google Hones Mobile Search with More Music, TV, Movie Info

Mobile-Only U.S. Homes Grow, Mobile Internet Leads Globally

Two recent reports document the trend of U.S. households to use only cell phones and, globally, for mobile networks to be the dominant means of accessing the Internet. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s report shows 47 percent of U.S. homes now only use mobile phones. The annual survey of the International Telecommunications Union reveals that there are 7.1 billion mobile subscriptions globally, and more than 95 percent of the earth’s inhabitants are within reach of a mobile network signal. Continue reading Mobile-Only U.S. Homes Grow, Mobile Internet Leads Globally

New Features, Deals Could Turn Things Around for Apple Pay

Apple Pay is experiencing a rocky road to adoption. On Black Friday, it was used for about half the number of purchases as last year. On the plus side, Apple has added to the list of vendors allowing consumers to use Apple Pay, but the company is also entering the world of friend-to-friend payments, which are expensive to operate and hard to monetize. What could tip the balance is the deal Apple inked with China UnionPay to be used at Chinese cash registers. But only time will tell. Continue reading New Features, Deals Could Turn Things Around for Apple Pay

Cyber Monday Sets Sales Records, Mobile Shopping on Rise

While retailers have extended their special online deals before and after Cyber Monday this year, yesterday’s sales are still poised to break records. Adobe reports that by 10:00 yesterday morning, shoppers had already spent a record $490 million. When the numbers are finalized, Adobe predicts the day will represent the biggest e-commerce day on record with $3 billion in sales. Mobile shopping is also on the rise; Adobe notes that 41 percent of shopping visits originated on smartphones and 12 percent from tablets. Continue reading Cyber Monday Sets Sales Records, Mobile Shopping on Rise

CTA: Tech Spending to Increase This Holiday Shopping Season

About 160 million U.S. adults — or 74 percent of holiday shoppers — plan on purchasing tech gifts this season, according to the Consumer Technology Association’s 22nd Annual CE Holiday Purchase Patterns Study, which predicts holiday tech spending will reach $34.2 billion this year. Top gifts include smartphones, headphones, tablets and portable Bluetooth speakers, while 12 percent of shoppers indicate they plan to purchase a wearable device. CTA has identified six types of tech shoppers that could help retailers better understand the preferences of today’s consumers. Continue reading CTA: Tech Spending to Increase This Holiday Shopping Season

More People Shopped Online Than in Stores this Black Friday

Last week’s start to the holiday shopping season marked the most social on record with 1.4 million tweets during the week leading up to Black Friday. However, sales in retail stores on Thanksgiving and Black Friday fell about $1.4 billion this year, with more consumers opting to pursue deals online. Black Friday saw a 14 percent increase in online sales over last year, for a total of $2.72 billion, while Thanksgiving online sales jumped 25 percent. Adobe estimates that shoppers spent $4.45 billion online Thursday and Friday combined. Continue reading More People Shopped Online Than in Stores this Black Friday

Sprint Offers New Half-Off Promotion, Expanded LTE Network

Until January 7, any wireless customer switching to Sprint will get half-off the price of the plan offered by his current carrier, as well as $650 in switching costs. For existing Sprint customers, the company offers a free Alcatel OneTouch Pixi 7-inch tablet with 1GB of free data for signing a two-year contract. While Sprint chief executive Marcelo Claure says the offer demonstrates the company’s confidence in its improved network, its competitors interpret the latest move in the wireless price wars as closer to desperate. Continue reading Sprint Offers New Half-Off Promotion, Expanded LTE Network

Nokia Initiates Share-Exchange Offer in Alcatel-Lucent Merger

Initiating its planned merger with Alcatel-Lucent, first announced in April, Nokia began its share-exchange offer with that company’s shareholders in Paris and London. Nokia is paying €15.6 billion ($16.6 billion) for Alcatel-Lucent, with the idea that combining the two companies’ expertise in telecom and Internet gear will help it better compete in a global economy. Nokia not only faces competition from new players such as China’s Huawei Technologies but from Ericsson, which just struck an alliance with Cisco. Continue reading Nokia Initiates Share-Exchange Offer in Alcatel-Lucent Merger

Univision Launches Subscription Video with Live Broadcasts

Hispanic media powerhouse Univision Communications has launched Univision Now, a $5.99-per-month Internet video service that features live broadcasts of the Univision and UniMás networks for Spanish-speaking viewers. The SVOD service features DVR-style replays of its live programming for up to three days after broadcast, in addition to on-demand access to primetime shows up to seven days after airing. Univision Now — offering the networks’ full slate of news, sports, telenovelas and award shows — is available via the Internet and iOS and Android apps. Continue reading Univision Launches Subscription Video with Live Broadcasts

FTC Studies Privacy Issues Inherent in Cross-Device Tracking

Prompted by the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT), the Federal Trade Commission has scheduled a workshop to discuss cross-device tracking technologies. Using ultrasonic, inaudible pitches, the technology allows a user’s online behavior to be tracked across phones, TVs, tablets and computers. The pitches can be — and are already — embedded in TV commercials, ads in a computer browser and apps. The consumer is not made aware that the tracking technology has been activated and there is no way to opt out. Continue reading FTC Studies Privacy Issues Inherent in Cross-Device Tracking

CTA Predicts Decline in CE Sales Growth This Holiday Season

During last week’s CES Unveiled event in New York, the newly named Consumer Technology Association (former Consumer Electronics Association) released its annual holiday purchase pattern study. According to Shawn DuBravac, CTA’s chief economist and senior research director, consumer electronics will have a strong showing this holiday season, but spending is expected to shift from high-end TVs to less expensive audio devices, mobile electronics and emerging technologies. The shift is expected to result in a drag on industry sales growth. Continue reading CTA Predicts Decline in CE Sales Growth This Holiday Season

ABC Developing Original Programming for Streaming Initiative

ABC is said to be exploring a new approach to streaming original content online. Rather than launching a standalone subscription service similar to CBS All Access or NBCUniversal’s upcoming comedy offering Seeso, the network is reportedly planning to introduce new series exclusively through its WatchABC app. In addition to offering expanded original programming on an alternative platform, the Disney-owned network could also use the model as a means of trying out new concepts and talent that could eventually make their way to broadcast television. Continue reading ABC Developing Original Programming for Streaming Initiative

T-Mobile Launches Binge On: Video Streaming, No Data Cap

T-Mobile US will stream 24 video services including Netflix, Hulu and HBO for free, albeit at lower quality. The wireless company has already used this tactic — called zero rating, which means the data will not be counted against the subscriber’s data limit — for its Music Freedom service, which includes music streaming apps Spotify and Apple Music among others. The new video exemption, dubbed Binge On, does not, however, include video from YouTube, Facebook and Netflix and requires users to have a 3GB plan or larger. Continue reading T-Mobile Launches Binge On: Video Streaming, No Data Cap

Pluto TV Aggregates Digital Channels to Remix Traditional TV

Pluto TV chief executive Tom Ryan sees the company as a “remix” of traditional linear TV, a place where viewers don’t have to pick what they want to watch. The company just announced new content deals with NBC News, Reuters, Paramount, 120 Sports, CNET, Legendary Digital, and Corus Entertainment, but the majority of its content is YouTube or Vimeo videos that have been repackaged to resemble linear channels. New executive chair Ken Parks says the service plans to be an aggregator for digital subscription services. Continue reading Pluto TV Aggregates Digital Channels to Remix Traditional TV

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