Echo Dot Leads the Charge for Amazon’s Record Prime Day

Amazon’s annual Prime Day proved to be a major success on Tuesday, breaking its own single-day sales record for the second consecutive year. According to the e-commerce giant, Prime Day sales surpassed those of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, with total sales figures more than 60 percent higher than the previous year’s event. Deals are reserved exclusively for Prime members, and the company signed more new members on July 11th than any other single day in its history. The Echo Dot smart speaker was the best-selling Amazon device as well as best-selling product from any manufacturer across all categories. Continue reading Echo Dot Leads the Charge for Amazon’s Record Prime Day

Apple, Microsoft, Uber Turn to New Data Privacy Technology

Apple instituted a privacy technology, called differential privacy, that enables its software to understand users without spying on their activities. Now, Microsoft and Uber are also trying out the same technology. While differential privacy reportedly can keep data anonymous, experts warn that it’s becoming easier than ever to identify people from anonymous data sets. That includes biometrics; Citigroup has abandoned a project begun in 2015 to allow customers to scan their irises to access their accounts at an ATM. Continue reading Apple, Microsoft, Uber Turn to New Data Privacy Technology

Facebook Offers New Price Reduction for Oculus Rift Bundle

For the second time this year, Facebook is hoping to jumpstart sales of its Oculus Rift VR headset with a price reduction. Facebook’s Oculus VR unit will offer the Rift, Oculus Touch motion controllers, seven VR games and more as a $399 bundle over the next six weeks. The bundle was earlier offered for $598, which was $200 less than the combined launch prices. According to Jason Rubin, head of content at Oculus, the new bundle price is meant to leverage the increased number of apps and games available for the Rift (700+ today, compared to 400 in March). Continue reading Facebook Offers New Price Reduction for Oculus Rift Bundle

Stream-Ripping: Fastest Growing Form of Music Piracy in UK

According to new research by the Intellectual Property Office and PRS for Music, “stream-ripping” technology is the fastest-growing approach to music piracy in the United Kingdom. The research indicates a 141.3 percent increase in this type of illegal activity between 2014 and 2016. Stream-ripping apps and websites allow consumers to convert streaming content such as Spotify songs and YouTube videos into digital files that can be stored on mobile devices and computers. In September of 2016, such sites were accessed 498,681 times in the U.K., while BitTorrent was only used 23,567 times. Continue reading Stream-Ripping: Fastest Growing Form of Music Piracy in UK

Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

Ticketmaster has partnered with LISNR, a data-over-audio company, to use an ultrasonic sound technology on users’ smartphones to admit them to live events and track their movements. The technology, dubbed “smart tones,” transmits information between devices, and was recently used by Jaguar Land Rover so that mobile devices in different vehicles could communicate with one another. Ticketmaster is launching a new e-ticketing system called Presence, powered by LISNR tech, that it hopes will reduce entry wait times at live events. Continue reading Ticketmaster Teams With LISNR For Smart Tone Technology

QVC to Purchase HSN in All-Stock Deal Valued at $2.1 Billion

Cable TV rivals QVC and the Home Shopping Network announced they plan to merge through an all-stock transaction valued around $2.1 billion. QVC chief exec Mike George will run the combined company and 17 cable channels. As impulse buying and video watching increasingly go mobile, the TV-based retailers have been facing increased competition from Amazon. “QVC’s sales in the U.S. have declined in each of the last three quarters,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Revenue at HSN has declined for six straight quarters, and the company has been searching for a new CEO.” Continue reading QVC to Purchase HSN in All-Stock Deal Valued at $2.1 Billion

Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

Facebook wants to help mobile consumers locate accessible Wi-Fi networks by expanding its “Find Wi-Fi” option, initially launched last year on iOS in select countries. Facebook announced that the feature would be made available worldwide on both iOS and Android devices to help users find public Wi-Fi networks, useful when traveling or in areas where cellular data is scarce. This could help Facebook’s “2 billion monthly users stay connected to the network and spend more time in its app — something that directly impacts Facebook’s bottom line,” notes TechCrunch, and “the tool also serves as another way to discover local businesses” as a possible alternative to Google Maps. The feature can be found under the “More” tab in the Facebook app. Continue reading Facebook Announces its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ Feature Is Going Global

‘Pokémon Go’ Is Still Popular: Passes $1.2 Billion in Revenue

According to the latest figures from Apptopia, mobile AR game sensation “Pokémon Go” has reached 752 million downloads and has earned more than $1.2 billion in revenue. The freemium game supports in-app purchases; total revenues for last year topped $950 million. The game “had about 60 million monthly players in June, with 20 percent of them opening the game at least once a day,” reports VentureBeat. “While that’s down from the app’s peak last August, which was at 100 million monthly users, it’s still a huge number.” Apptopia breaks down the game’s players: 57.4 percent are male, 38 percent are millennials (ages 19-34), and 32.5 percent are 18 or younger. Continue reading ‘Pokémon Go’ Is Still Popular: Passes $1.2 Billion in Revenue

IBM Watson to Serve AI-Driven Content for Wimbledon Fans

Artificial intelligence is coming to the Wimbledon tennis tournament, via IBM’s Watson, which will generate video highlight reels, give tours through the All England Lawn Tennis Club and help fans in numerous other ways. A digital voice assistant, dubbed Fred (after the British tennis star Fred Perry), will provide directions to Wimbledon locations, information on players and where to buy merchandise. IBM also unveiled a technology that analyzes player stats, and a joint IBM-AELTC metric called “competitive margin.” Continue reading IBM Watson to Serve AI-Driven Content for Wimbledon Fans

Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Social media giant Facebook announced it now has 2 billion monthly active users. The new milestone comes five years after reaching 1 billion users, and 13 years after Mark Zuckerberg first launched the platform. According to TechCrunch, Facebook leads social apps based on number of logged-in users, “above YouTube’s 1.5 billion, WeChat’s 889 million, Twitter’s 328 million and Snapchat’s estimated 255 million.” Facebook’s WhatsApp and Messenger each have 1.2 billion users, while its Instagram photo-sharing app recently exceeded 700 million. Continue reading Facebook Reaches New Milestone of 2 Billion Monthly Users

Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

A study conducted by New York digital ad agency 360i revealed that Google Home is six times likelier than Amazon Alexa to answer user requests correctly. However, consumers are much more likely to purchase the Amazon product than Google’s. Amazon currently dominates with 70 percent of the voice-controlled speaker market, says eMarketer. Amazon released its new Echo Show with interactive touchscreen this week, and according to one reviewer, it’s not much different from Android or Apple voice assistants. Continue reading Google Home Is More Likely to Answer Correctly Than Alexa

Mobile Commerce to Push App Economy Over $6T by 2021

According to a new report from App Annie, the app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion in five years, up from $1.3 trillion in 2016. The average consumer is not downloading more apps, but is spending more time and money in apps. The measurement firm predicts the number of worldwide app users will nearly double to 6.3 billion in 2021, and the time those individuals use apps will more than double. Ninety percent of last year’s total app economy was represented by the purchase of goods and services through mobile apps, a figure App Annie expects will increase to 95 percent by 2021. Continue reading Mobile Commerce to Push App Economy Over $6T by 2021

Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

With its new Snap Map feature, now available on iOS and Android, Snapchat encourages friends to get together in real life instead of just digitally. Snap Map shares your current location via a map that updates when Snapchat is opened. The tech is based on Snap’s acquisition of social map app Zenly. Users can select specific friends for location sharing or disappear from the map via Ghost Mode. Tapping a friend’s “BitMoji avatar opens their Story to show what they’re up to, or lets you message them directly to make meetup plans,” explains TechCrunch. “Snap Map also gives users an alternative way to discover Story content beyond the well-worn Stories feed.” Continue reading Snap Map Location Sharing Aims to Bring Friends Together

Snap, Time Warner Ink $100 Million Deal For Original Shows

Snap Inc. has inked a $100 million deal with Time Warner’s Turner cable channels and Warner Bros. studios for up to 10 original shows a year for the platform. The big studios and traditional TV companies see Snapchat as a way to reach its younger demographic, which is much less likely to subscribe to their premium channels. For example, HBO now has a path to creating content for Snapchat, and scripted drama and comedy are among the genres considered for distribution via the deal. Snap’s shows typically run three to five minutes. Continue reading Snap, Time Warner Ink $100 Million Deal For Original Shows

YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

YouTube creators who want to see specifically where people are looking in their 360-degree and VR videos are in luck. The company is introducing a new analytics tool that does just that, via heatmaps, available for any such videos that exceed 1,000 views. YouTube is also sharing tips on 360-degree videos aimed to help video producers. Making these videos is particularly challenging since viewers can watch in a variety of ways, including via a VR headset, the YouTube smartphone app or desktop web browsers, where they can rotate the video. Continue reading YouTube Intros Heatmaps, Production Tips for VR, 360 Video

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