Musicians Implore Pandora to Not Support Internet Radio Fairness Act

  • More than one hundred musicians have signed an open letter asking Pandora to stop its support of the Internet Radio Fairness Act, an act that would reduce royalty payments on Internet streaming radio services.
  • “We are big fans of Pandora. That’s why we helped give the company a discount on rates for the past decade,” the letter begins.
  • “Why is the company asking Congress once again to step in and gut the royalties that thousands of musicians rely upon?” it continues. “That’s not fair and that’s not how partners work together.”
  • “Congress has many pressing issues to consider, but this is not one of them. Let’s work this out as partners and continue to bring fans the great musical experience they rightly expect.”
  • Pandora argues that the act promotes fairness since it brings the royalties in line with those of satellite radio services.
  • The music industry agrees that the royalties should be in line with each other, it just argues that the satellite services should pay more, like Pandora.

Spotify Rolls Out Browser-Based Version of Popular Music App

  • People have long requested a browser-based player from Spotify, and the Swedish company has responded by releasing a beta Web version of the popular streaming music software.
  • The new version allows people who cannot or do not want to download applications to use Spotify’s immense music library (competitor Rdio has had a Web player for years).
  • The Web version also allows people to log in to their Spotify account on computers other than their own.
  • “It’s unclear exactly what technology Spotify has chosen to use for streaming music in its Web player,” writes The Verge.
  • Spotify uses peer-to-peer technology on its desktop application, and streams directly from Spotify servers for the mobile app.
  • “The Web player is now live in some regions, and users will receive a Facebook invite when the service is ready,” notes the post.

Trial Run: How Close is Amazon to Becoming a Cable-Killer?

  • The Verge writer Dan Seifert spent a few weeks simulating the life of a cord-cutter, ignoring cable television and other forms of entertainment while using Amazon as his only source of entertainment.
  • He concluded that while Amazon has an extensive array of entertainment options, the offerings are not enough to convince him to permanently switch from cable.
  • Furthermore, he said that the cost difference actually ends up not being very different from paying for a full slate of cable channels.
  • Amazon claims to offer 22 million books, movies, TV shows, songs, apps and games, but Seifert notes that options are often limited and Amazon does not offer live events (he missed watching sporting events and presidential debates).
  • Amazon offers free streaming video for its Prime customers, but “the movies and TV shows available or free to Prime members generally aren’t the latest and greatest blockbusters,” writes Seifert.
  • He adds that at $79.99 for a yearly subscription or $7.99 monthly Prime is not cheap, but does provide value for frequent Amazon customers.

Conde Nast Entertainment Chief Compares Internet TV to Early Cable

  • Internet television is similar to the early days of cable television, according to Dawn Ostroff, head of Conde Nast’s new Entertainment Group.
  • Current Internet television is largely low budget and caters to niche markets, much like cable television before people fully figured out how to fill the new channels with content.
  • Ostroff likes the YouTube channels WIGS and AwesomenessTV, which have 17 million and 43 million views respectively, but notes that the production quality is not on par with traditional television.
  • Internet television could grow as online video advertising is projected to rise from $3 billion to $9 billion by 2017, reports The Verge. As this happens, the length and production quality could rise, according to Ostroff.
  • “I think ultimately, you will see a lot of this digital content become full-length content,” said Ostroff. “It’s going to stay short for a while, but I think the production quality is going to get better.”
  • Internet television will need to shift away from niche markets if it wishes to grow, argues Ostroff.
  • “There will be more focus on more niche shows in order to carve up the audience even further, but I think there will continue to need to be big events,” she said. “You’re never going to be able to get a big audience, a wide audience, by doing niche content.”

Consumers More Active with Online Purchases via Tablets Than Phones

  • A new report from BI Intelligence analyzes consumer spending trends on tablets, noting that people purchase items more frequently on tablets than on smartphones.
  • Bank of America predicts people will spend $67.1 billion through mobile transactions in 2015, according to the report.
  • Tablets account for seven percent of ecommerce traffic, while smartphones account for only five percent.
  • Tablet shoppers “spent 50 percent more per order on retail websites than smartphone shoppers — and more unexpectedly, 20 percent more than shoppers on PCs,” notes the report.
  • “With lower prices, more device options, and emerging market opportunities, tablet sales are set to explode to 450 million annually by 2016. Increased tablet commerce volume will likely come along with it.”
  • People often use tablets to compare prices, says the report. More than “half of tablet owners used their devices to compare price, product, and store information.” Twenty percent of tablet users say they use their tablets to compare prices every day.

Will Ease of Cloud-Gaming Services Create New Market Segment?

  • Cloud-gaming services are poised to create a new segment of gaming by allowing gamers to play high-tech games using a simple computer or tablet connected to broadband Internet, writes the Wall Street Journal.
  • runs the most successful streaming service for gaming. The site has more than 200 titles, some of which are available for free.
  • People can also buy games that they can have access to for life, or they can rent games for three or five days. Users can also pay $10 a month for unlimited access to select titles.
  • Other companies are set to break into the industry, including Playcast Media Systems, which hopes to bring games to satellite and cable companies.
  • Sony bought cloud-gaming company Gaikai to help bolster Sony’s cloud-gaming strategy. Even GamesStop, a video-game retailer, plans to launch a service by the summer, according to WSJ.
  • The article offers interesting overviews of four titles for cloud gaming: “Sleeping Dogs,” “Civilization V,” “L.A. Noire” and “Limbo.”

Live Gaming TV to Change with Call of Duty YouTube Streaming

  • “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” allows players to live-stream their gameplay to YouTube, a feature that could spark a rise in spectator gaming, reports paidContent.
  • The market for consumer viewed gaming has not been filled since the television show “GamesMaster” went off the air in 1998. But YouTube live streaming could help fill this void.
  • It is true that “YouTube is chock-full of gamer commentaries,” but “there has long been a technical hurdle — while PC gaming can more easily be screencast, console gamers have needed to route their video output to a PC,” explains the article.
  • Ustream,, and eSports Live have supplied some avenues for better live video game viewing, but YouTube has distinct advantages over the other entities.
  • While hardcore gamers have found ways to make live viewing work, the direct integration into the new “Call of Duty” opens up the opportunity to millions more.
  • The feature even allows players to play the role of director, “changing camera angles and mic levels and presenting pieces to camera via webcam,” according to paidContent.
  • Also, by tying video game content directly into YouTube, “Call of Duty” establishes itself on the largest video service on the Internet. There is a good chance YouTube will be on many televisions soon, meaning video game viewing could migrate from computers to televisions as well.

Will the Megaupload Case Impact Cloud-Based Ownership Rights?

  • The lawsuit against Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom not only has the chance to impact his life — but the lives, privacy and property rights of anyone in the world that uses cloud storage, suggests Wired.
  • Even if the legal system rules that the government should return the seized data, it would first have to be screened to determine if it violated copyright law, according to Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Julie Samuels.
  • Samuels advocates for user rights in relation to cloud storage. “There has to be something to allow third parties to get their data,” she notes. “These are important property rights. If we don’t treat them as such, we’re doing third parties a disservice. These are new issues. More and more people are using cloud technology every day.”
  • The process that federal prosecutors have proposed “would make it essentially impossible for former Megaupload users to recover any of their legitimate data,” writes Wired.
  • The prosecutors proposed the method because they maintain that the site was used almost exclusively for the illegal sharing of files. Others argue that while the site may have been used primarily for this purpose, some people stored legitimate data on the site.
  • “A hearing on the data-retrieval issue is pending,” notes the article.

Can Wikipedia Be Used to Predict Future Movie Box Office Revenues?

  • Researchers have recently used Twitter to forecast election results, changes in stock market prices and box office revenues. Now, researchers are turning to Wikipedia for similar forecasting.
  • Marton Mestyan of the Budapest University of Technology and Economics in Hungary and his team of researchers have used Wikipedia behavior patterns to predict box office revenues a month before films are released, writes Technology Review.
  • Number of views, number of human editors, number of edits, and a factor known as collaborative rigor all contribute to the predictions.
  • “We show that the popularity of a movie could be predicted well in advance by measuring and analyzing the activity level of editors and viewers of the corresponding entry to the movie in Wikipedia,” explains Mestyan.
  • One problem with the system is that it only seems to work for high-revenue films. Mestyan says the Twitter predictions have similar problems predicting revenues for films that do not do well at the box office.
  • He says that his method works up to a month in advance, while Twitter only works after the film has been released.
  • Technology Review cautions that making “predictions” about the past (creating correlations between data sets) is one thing, and actually making accurate predictions about the future is another.

RoadMap 2012: Imagining Possibilities for the Cloud-Connected Car

  • People already use Bluetooth while driving to stay connected to the outside world, but soon cars could become another connected device on a shared data plan, suggests GigaOM. The obvious concern — and reason this has not already happened — is safety.
  • Cars could benefit from increased connectivity because drivers could receive real-time data on traffic. “That stream, obviously, has to be segregated from the music and podcasts that the driver or passengers are streaming or downloading to entertain themselves,” explains the article.
  • Ford currently provides some connectivity through Sync, a system that allows for voice control.
  • “Right now, the connectivity with Sync is through your mobile device, so you’re using your regular data plan for that but I like the idea of the car being another device on a shared data plan,” suggests Paul Mascarenas, CTO and VP of research and innovation for Ford. “That might give us flexibility to provide a user experience where your car is like your second home or second office where you seamlessly share content.”
  • Eventually, cars will probably be linked to the cloud and the rest of consumer electronic devices, but companies must first work out the safety kinks that come with driving and accessing data at the same time.
  • For more information on the services and user experience possible with the connected car, check out the 19-minute session video from RoadMap 2012.

Will Netflix Eventually Help Neutralize BitTorrent and P2P Video Sharing?

  • Digital video piracy has declined because of the availability of streaming video services, especially Netflix, suggests Business Insider. While streaming services as a whole have contributed to the decline of piracy, Netflix controls 33 percent of North American peak traffic (according to a new report from Sandvine).
  • “The real alternative to Netflix is BitTorrent, a popular file-sharing protocol through which users upload and download copies of movies and TV shows,” explains the article. “Because it’s a technology for file sharing rather than a centralized service or piece of software, BitTorrent has proven very hard for movie studios to shut down.”
  • But BitTorrent traffic has declined to 12 percent of traffic in North America, in part because of Netflix’s low monthly prices and expansive offerings. Netflix is also less complex and downloads more quickly than BitTorrent.
  • BitTorrent traffic currently comprises 16 percent in Europe — and 36 percent in Asia, where video services are not as available.
  • Sandvine CEO Dave Caputo predicts that by 2015 peer-to-peer file-sharing traffic will dip lower than 10 percent of network use.
  • “It’s not a given that BitTorrent use indicates illegal downloading of a video file — some game developers use it to distribute legal copies of their software, for example — but it is heavily used for video downloads,” writes Business Insider.

Google Announces $299 Nexus 4 Phone Will Ship on November 13

  • Google’s official Nexus 4 announcement did not shock anyone in the tech community, as the phone has been leaked for the past few weeks, but the phone looks and feels much better in person, writes The Verge.
  • The Nexus 4 “features a 4.7-inch 1280 x 768 IPS display, a 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro processor — which Google claims is the fastest on the market — an 8 megapixel camera and a 1.3 megapixel front-facing camera, and up to 16GB of storage,” notes the post, adding that although it shares many features with the LG Optimus G, the Nexus 4 seems a much more polished and attractive phone.
  • One major drawback of the Nexus 4 is that it does not support 4G LTE technology. The phone does come as an unlocked HSPA+ device, but fails to rival the iPhone 5 in 4G LTE capability.
  • The Verge notes that the Nexus 4 screen is “terrific” and “not just in pixel density.” The screen uses LG’s G2 technology to integrate touch into the surface layer of glass. This allows the phone to be thin while bringing the display pixels close to the screen.
  • The phone, available for purchase November 13, runs on the new Android 4.2, which includes features like widget functionality on the lock screen, gesture typing, and “a completely redesigned UI focused on single-handed input,” according to the post.
  • “The device will sell for $299 with 8GB of storage, or $349 with 16GB. A T-Mobile version will sell unlocked for $199 on a two-year contract. Alongside the improved screen and faster CPU, the Nexus 4 has 2GB of RAM, Wi-Fi 802.11b/g/n, NFC, Bluetooth, and built-in compatibility with Google’s latest accessory, the Wireless Charging Orb — an inductive charging dock.”

Piracy Dramatically Impacting Sales of $10 Billion Mobile App Industry

  • Piracy has turned its attention to the $10.1 billion mobile-app business. “The order of magnitude is tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in losses per developer,” notes Carl Howe, VP of researcher Yankee Group, adding that sales might be 20-50 percent higher without piracy.
  • “There are lots of ways to steal an app; it usually involves copying its code and publishing it on an online forum or a legitimate app store,” writes Businessweek.
  • App piracy is different than other types of piracy because it often targets students or small firms that do not have the means or resources to pursue piracy.
  • The issue is especially problematic on Android, as according to Howe, Google’s “tools have been relatively ineffective because there are multiple Android stores, and Google can’t possibly control all the non-Google stores.”
  • Google hopes to combat the issue by offering encryption keys with paid applications to verify that the app matches the device from which it was purchased. This is intended to avoid copying the code and redistributing it to multiple devices.
  • Other app developers are turning to anti-tampering tools from companies like Arxan Technologies, which help monitor and fight piracy.
  • Many developers have switched to the freemium app model because it shows advertisements both to legitimate downloaders and to pirates. Other developers convince people to download the real version of the application by offering frequent updates.

Startup PredictGaze Offers Face, Gesture and Gaze in One Technology

  • Technology startup PredictGaze uses gaze detection, gesture recognition, and facial-feature recognition to control devices like televisions and cars. The company thinks that as front-facing cameras become more common on devices, gesture control will become a preferred method to operate electronics.
  • The product is currently being tested on an iOS game that allows users to control a monster using head motions.
  • It is also being tested in Japan to track customer interest in products. The technology determines the customer’s smile, gender, and time spent in front of a product, and can offer coupons if it feels it is losing a hesitant customer.
  • “The company’s technology combines machine-learning and computer-vision algorithms in software that can use a standard VGA camera to figure out where you’re looking, what your gender is, if you’re smiling, and more. It can also identify gestures — all of which can then be translated into actions taken by devices,” reports Technology Review.
  • Founder Ketan Banjara says PredictGaze’s technology is unique in its ability to bring together “face, gesture, and gaze” under one technology.
  • The technology can perform tasks such as pausing a video if it determines no one is watching, and can also turn the pages of an e-book by tracking the reader’s eyes.

Paper-Like, Low Power LCD from Japan Display Plays Color Video

  • Japan Display has developed a video-playing paper-like LCD that runs on low power. “The results could be of great use to device makers who want to simulate a paper-like experience while adding the capabilities of color video,” writes Technology Review.
  • A press release from Japan Display notes that “an optical property optimization adopting a newly-developed scattering layer” and a low power consumption method are integral aspects of the technology.
  • The technology’s Light Control Layer does not reflect light like most LCDs, but rather “the display collects light to some extent, in the direction of the user’s eyes, making it look similar to paper,” according to Japan Display.
  • The lower power consumption comes from the company’s Memory in Pixels technology. This technology retains signals when it displays still pictures, which saves energy.
  • Japan Display has developed one version of the technology that is bright, but has relatively low color purity, and another version that is dim, but has high color purity. The company is ready to market the bright, low color purity model, while it continues research and development on the high color purity display.