Snap Unveils New AR Features for Advertisers, Pushing Trend

COVID-19 drove consumers to online shopping, with eMarketer reporting that global e-commerce sales grew to $4.28 trillion in 2020, from $3.35 trillion the previous year. Many advertisers shifted spending to social media platforms, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, which said that such ad revenue grew 16.3 percent to $41.5 billion last year and represented almost one-third of all digital advertising. Now Snap, Facebook, Pinterest and TikTok have debuted ads that use augmented reality to market products. Continue reading Snap Unveils New AR Features for Advertisers, Pushing Trend

Facebook Plans to Expand Live-Stream Pay-Per-View Events

Social giant Facebook wants to transform its live online events into a pay-per-view opportunity for the sports leagues already streaming games on its platform. The company sees the possibility of smaller leagues and even high school sports teams using the model to make money on “virtual” attendance and plans to invest in the live-streaming events that collects money for a “virtual” ticket. The social platform’s plan is similar to the long-standing practice of media networks like HBO charging pay-per-view fees for boxing events. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Expand Live-Stream Pay-Per-View Events

Apple Chief Exec Tim Cook Testifies in Trial with Epic Games

“Fortnite” creator Epic Games sued Apple over its 30 percent commission on all App Store transactions. That case is now in court, and Apple chief executive Tim Cook took the stand to defend his company against accusations of monopolistic behavior. On the sidelines are other companies with the same grievance and the European Union, which also charged Apple with violating antitrust rules with the App Store. In an hour of testimony, Cook stated that commissions from app developers help the company create better App Store security. Continue reading Apple Chief Exec Tim Cook Testifies in Trial with Epic Games

Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Pinterest allows users to “pin” photos and videos onto boards, helping them to “discover ideas through images,” especially those pinned by people or companies that they follow. It uses neural networks, which make millions of calculations quickly, to surface and suggest the images that people will like. According to Pinterest senior vice president of engineering Jeremy King, this tool is responsible for “nearly 100 percent” of the company’s growth. In Q1, Pinterest’s AI-powered formula drew in almost 480 million people. Continue reading Pinterest: Neural Networks Boost Ad Sales and User Growth

Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Big Tech companies have long regulated who can fix their devices, keeping components in short supply or simply providing them only to authorized repair shops. Now, a group of independent repair shop owners and activists are promoting right-to-repair legislation across the United States. Although such bills were put before state legislators in 27 states in 2021, more than have of them have been dismissed or voted down, often with the help of powerful lobbyists for Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft among others. Continue reading Big Tech Fights Right-to-Repair Legislation at the State Level

Snap Introduces Augmented Reality Spectacles for Creators

During last week’s Snap Partner Summit 2021, Snap showcased Spectacles, a new augmented reality version of its glasses that is not yet commercially available. Instead, the goal is to inspire creators to design new augmented reality experiences, with the aim of capitalizing on e-commerce. The company also updated the Scan feature, which, in concert with partners, allows use of the camera to identify everything from plants to dog breeds and car models. Chief executive Evan Spiegel said the moves are “a meaningful step forward in our platform strategy.” Continue reading Snap Introduces Augmented Reality Spectacles for Creators

Fashion Industry Leverages Games, Apps and Virtual Shows

Fashion lovers now have games designed just for them, including “Drest,” which debuted in 2019, the brainchild of former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar UK Lucy Yeomans. Louis Vuitton collaborated with Riot Games on prestige skins for the League of Legends World Championship Finals and Riot is now teaming with Japanese casual wear retailer UNIQLO. High-fashion outfits from Marc Jacobs and Valentino have appeared in the video game series “Animal Crossing.” Luxury fashion brands are increasingly drawn to partake in the game industry, which made $175 billion in 2020. Continue reading Fashion Industry Leverages Games, Apps and Virtual Shows

Studios, Exhibitors, Actors Pin Big Screen Hopes on Summer

During the COVID-19 pandemic, movie theaters were closed and the industry suffered the economic impacts of the shutdown. This week, at an AMC theater, the five major Hollywood studios, their indie subsidiaries and indie labels such as A24 and Neon gathered to send a unified message: it’s time to go back to the movie theater. Their presence was buttressed by messages from Arnold Schwarzenegger, actor and director John Krasinski, Marvel chief executive Kevin Feige, and musician Questlove (promoting his upcoming movie “Summer of Soul”). Vin Diesel, Ryan Reynolds and Dwayne Johnson were among other notable individuals pushing a return to theaters. Continue reading Studios, Exhibitors, Actors Pin Big Screen Hopes on Summer

Media Transition Enables AT&T to Focus on Building Out 5G

Earlier this week, AT&T announced a $43 billion deal to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery, three years after its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner. The move marks AT&T’s pivot to a focus on its deployment of 5G. AT&T chief executive John Stankey said the company plans “to continue the momentum in our mobility business by stepping up our investment in our wireless network.” Other telcos have adopted a similar strategy, with Verizon selling AOL and Yahoo for $5 billion, and T-Mobile shuttering its T-Vision streaming service. Continue reading Media Transition Enables AT&T to Focus on Building Out 5G

WarnerMedia to Introduce an Ad-Supported Tier of HBO Max

Aiming to increase its subscriber base, HBO Max is launching a lower priced, ad-supported tier in the first week of June. The new tier is priced at $9.99 a month versus the ad-free tier at $14.99 a month. Subscribers to the lower priced tier will not have access to Warner Bros. features that debut simultaneously in theaters and on the higher-priced tier. WarnerMedia revealed that the ad-supported version will serve “limited commercials,” and allow advertisers to reach viewers in a way they cannot on linear TV. The company is also planning steps toward global expansion. Continue reading WarnerMedia to Introduce an Ad-Supported Tier of HBO Max

Google I/O: Android 12, Remote Working Tools, Wear Update

At this week’s Google I/O developer conference, the company unveiled its Android 12 mobile operating system with numerous visual changes and new privacy features. The company also showcased Project Starline, a prototype virtual meeting booth that could replace Google Meet. In addition, Google is tweaking its smartwatch Wear OS and has improved Photos’ discovery and Chrome’s built-in password manager. More remote working tools and new natural language skills were debuted. Google also tweaked Maps and shopping tools. Continue reading Google I/O: Android 12, Remote Working Tools, Wear Update

Google’s Quantum AI Campus Envisions Commercial System

Google distinguished scientist Hartmut Neven revealed that, by 2029, the company will build a commercially useable quantum computer for flawless large-scale enterprise and scientific calculations. Google revealed it has expanded a campus in Santa Barbara, California focused on the project. Neven, who oversees the Quantum AI program, added that the company is at an “inflection point.” Google has been investing in the quantum computing effort for several years, as have IBM, D-Wave Systems and Honeywell International. Continue reading Google’s Quantum AI Campus Envisions Commercial System

Pinterest Rolls Out Idea Pins, Like Stories But Not Ephemeral

Pinterest has been moving away from its identity as a social network and making moves toward e-commerce. Now, the company is introducing Idea Pins, which it calls “an evolution of Story Pins, with a fresh name to better match the uniqueness of a product that empowers creators to share long-lasting ideas and not ephemeral stories.” Similar to the Stories feature common with other apps, Idea Pins consist of video clips up to 60 seconds that users can tap through. New publishing tools to create Idea Pins include video-first features, editing tools and updates. Continue reading Pinterest Rolls Out Idea Pins, Like Stories But Not Ephemeral

HTC Vive Targeting Enterprise Market with New VR Headsets

At ViveCon 2021, HTC debuted two new Vive virtual reality headsets, the HTC Vive Pro 2, which connects to the PC, and the standalone HTC Vive Focus 3. The company, which teamed with Valve to make its first Vive headset in 2015, has seen the VR business explode in numerous markets served by its Vive Pro and Vive Focus, aimed at enterprise markets and debuting in 2018.  The new headsets feature 5K resolution, a 120-degree field of view and RGB sub-pixels. The Vive Pro 2 will go on sale June 4 and Vive Focus 3 on June 27. Continue reading HTC Vive Targeting Enterprise Market with New VR Headsets

Amazon Music, Apple Music Unveil Hi-Res Audio for All Subs

Apple Music and Amazon Music are unveiling high-resolution audio to subscribers at no extra cost. Amazon Music had announced that its Amazon Music HD is available to all eligible Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers and Apple revealed that subscribers will be able to access Lossless Audio, “to hear the exact same thing that artists created in the studio.” Apple Music users will, based on their connection, be able to choose music resolution from CD quality (16 bit/44.1 kHz) up to Hi-Resolution Lossless at 24 bit/192 kHz. Continue reading Amazon Music, Apple Music Unveil Hi-Res Audio for All Subs

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