Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

On the 15th anniversary of the first Apple retail store, the company unveiled a new design for its 477 physical outlets. In the face of a slump in sales, the redesigned stores are one more way to bring in customers, existing and new, to buy products and bask in the Apple lifestyle. The first to open is in San Francisco’s Union Square. The two-story building features 42-foot-tall glass doors that expose the interior to the street, special displays on photography, music and more room to wander and play with Apple products. Continue reading Apple Redesigns Retail Stores, Opens San Francisco Flagship

Google Introduces VR System Daydream, VR-Capable Phones

During its I/O conference this week, Google announced it is releasing a new virtual reality system, dubbed Daydream, which includes a range of VR-capable Android smartphones, a headset design, a controller and applications, all of which will be released this fall. Daydream will be compatible with Google’s current and future Android mobile operating system, including the upcoming version, code-named Android N. Samsung, Alcatel-Lucent, Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG and Xiaomi are among those already building Daydream-compatible phones. Continue reading Google Introduces VR System Daydream, VR-Capable Phones

Google Launches its AI Ecosystem with Allo and Google Home

Google is focusing on advances in artificial intelligence as a competitive advantage. Its new Google assistant is positioned as the company’s latest iteration of search, and Google is promoting a variety of products based on machine learning that face competing products. Google Home will compete with Amazon Echo, while messaging app Allo will take on Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, and Snapchat. With regard to virtual assistants, Google is going against versions from Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft. Continue reading Google Launches its AI Ecosystem with Allo and Google Home

Google Partners with Xiaomi and its 4K Mi Box for Android TV

During its I/O conference, Google introduced new hardware partners for Android TV and Google Cast, its solutions for watching Web content on TV screens. One of these is Chinese electronics company Xiaomi, showing a new Mi Box that supports 4K, high dynamic range and, for the first time, will ship to the U.S. The Bluetooth remote-equipped Mi Box offers voice recognition and built-in Google Cast technology, enabling the user to cast content from iOS and Android devices. Google also says new Sony Bravia and RCA TVs and a Sharp Net Player will ship running Android TV. Continue reading Google Partners with Xiaomi and its 4K Mi Box for Android TV

BitTorrent Rolls Out New P2P-Based Live TV Streaming App

BitTorrent is debuting BitTorrent Live, a new live TV streaming app for the latest generation Apple TVs and computers, which offers live streams from 13 niche programmers. The goal is to build a virtual MVPD (multichannel video programming distributor), with more prominent cable networks. For now, the BitTorrent package is comprised of channels such as Clubbing TV, Filmbox Arthouse, FightBox, Newsmax TV, Heroes TV and TWiT. Although these aren’t well-known networks, the offering is free, unlike other TV streaming services. Continue reading BitTorrent Rolls Out New P2P-Based Live TV Streaming App

NBA Debuts Fan-Created Video Initiative Aimed at Millennials

The NBA, partnering with BroadbandTV (BBTV), has introduced a new multi-platform video initiative, NBA Playmakers. Aimed at millennials, the new online video network allows fans to make their own videos, with access to some NBA content and inclusion on a soon-to-launch YouTube channel. A video that draws a big audience or shows special talent will win its creator tickets, access to the NBA video team and other goodies. This initiative is the first foray that the league, with BBTV, plans to showcase high-quality fan content. Continue reading NBA Debuts Fan-Created Video Initiative Aimed at Millennials

Amazon Gets Echo, AWS IoT Buttons into Developers’ Hands

With smart speaker Echo and its voice assistant Alexa, Amazon turned its attention to voice-controlled devices, forging partnerships with startups and other companies. With Echo, users can control thermostats from Ecobee, talk to Invoxia SAS’s portable speaker and, soon, open the garage or start the engine of a Ford automobile. As more developers integrate Echo into their products, Amazon is better able to compete against Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana, and similar technology that Google is presently working on. Continue reading Amazon Gets Echo, AWS IoT Buttons into Developers’ Hands

AMC Takes New Approach to Promoting Series on Snapchat

On Monday, AMC began an advertising campaign within Snapchat for its much-hyped new series “Preacher,” with the intent of drawing in younger viewers. The new series’ first five minutes will be featured on Snapchat’s Discover section, and marks the first time that an extended clip of a network TV show will be available on the social platform. After a 24-period of exclusivity on Snapchat, the clip will be released to other platforms. It will continue to run on Snapchat for six more days. “Preacher” debuts May 22. Continue reading AMC Takes New Approach to Promoting Series on Snapchat

Rovio Self-Finances ‘Angry Birds’ Movie to Control Franchise

Finnish company Rovio Entertainment decided four years ago that, rather than license the “Angry Birds” characters to a Hollywood studio, it would finance its own $73 million movie. Since opening on Friday in some territories, Rovio’s gamble has thus far resulted in a $43 million gross. Companies such as Lego A/S and Hasbro turned to studios to finance their films, but Rovio took the same path Marvel did when it made “Iron Man,” with the goal of controlling the franchise over the long term. Continue reading Rovio Self-Finances ‘Angry Birds’ Movie to Control Franchise

Facebook Sells Video Advertising for Third Party Sites, Apps

Facebook is now expanding its reach into video by selling video ads for other companies, getting an as-of-yet-undisclosed cut of the revenue. Facebook says it will sell and place both “in-stream” and “in-article” video ads on websites and apps, such as those run by Daily Mail, Mashable and USA Today Sports Media Group. Marketers are willing to pay higher prices for video ads than other forms of advertising, making this a compelling sector and one where Facebook can compete with Google for video ad dollars. Continue reading Facebook Sells Video Advertising for Third Party Sites, Apps

Niche Audiences, Binge Watching Impact Testing of TV Pilots

Television networks are in the midst of their annual process of testing new shows to decide which ones they’ll pick up. The typical test audience is made up of 50 people, recruited based on age, sex and race, and a network’s core demographic. The audience members watch the show, judging it via a handheld device that has a knob enabling them to express like and dislike. Not every media outlet embraces the concept of test audiences, and the testing services are modifying their criteria to better reflect today’s viewing behavior. Continue reading Niche Audiences, Binge Watching Impact Testing of TV Pilots

Advertising Spend at This Year’s Upfronts Predicted to Spike

The move to new technology has thrown a monkey wrench in a roughly $70 billion TV advertising industry that has endured without much change for decades. Since then, television and advertising executives have been trying to determine what the future will look like among a range of competing and confusing scenarios and how to monetize it. That all comes to bear as we approach this season’s upfronts, and some sources are predicting, perhaps counter-intuitively, that ad rates will spike this year for the first time in awhile. Continue reading Advertising Spend at This Year’s Upfronts Predicted to Spike

European Commission Poised to Issue Major Fine to Google

The European Commission in Brussels is at the end of its seven-year investigation of Google and preparing to issue a record-breaking fine, expected to be about 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion). To date, the toughest fine the Commission has issued was 1.1 billion euros, levied at Intel. Inside sources say the announcement will likely come before the summer break, possibly as early as next week, and that the final amount hasn’t been decided upon, with the maximum possible at around 6.6 billion euros, or a tenth of Google’s total annual sales. Continue reading European Commission Poised to Issue Major Fine to Google

Growth Slow for Skinny Bundles, Attracting Younger Demos

In-home video entertainment is expected to be a $381 billion global business by 2019, of which about $100 billion represents the North American market. That’s why TV conglomerates aren’t eager to offer skinny bundles, and Apple, for the meantime, has given up on it. In the U.S., video entertainment tends to be spread among five different apps on at least two different hardware platforms, costing between $120 and $14o a month, including a TV package of 200+ channels from providers such as Comcast, AT&T and Dish. Continue reading Growth Slow for Skinny Bundles, Attracting Younger Demos

Google Open Sources Language Tools for Virtual Assistants

Google is open-sourcing SyntaxNet, a neural network framework that provides a foundation for Natural Language Understanding (NLU), and Parsey McParseface, a computer program that helps machines understand written English. Offering the code for free lets anyone develop, modify and distribute it, furthering natural language and potentially making Google’s code the standard. Earlier, Google open-sourced its machine-learning code TensorFlow (which SyntaxNet runs on top of); other companies that have similarly open-sourced code include Amazon and Facebook.

Continue reading Google Open Sources Language Tools for Virtual Assistants