Dr. Dre Stars In, Exec Produces Apple’s First Scripted Series

Funded by Apple, Beats co-founder/rap star Dr. Dre is starring in and executive producing a six-episode series, “Vital Signs.” Although it isn’t known whether any Apple platform — including Apple TV and the iTunes store — or traditional TV distributor will be involved, it is likely that Apple Music will distribute the series. Sources who have seen show descriptions report that Sam Rockwell (“Poltergeist,” “Seven Psychopaths”) and Mo McCrae (“Murder in the First,” “Sons of Anarchy”) are among the additional cast. Continue reading Dr. Dre Stars In, Exec Produces Apple’s First Scripted Series

AT&T, Verizon Lead Charge to Establish 5G Networks in U.S.

Even as standards bodies are at work to define the parameters of 5G, companies and countries are preparing to make the switch. 5G networks, which offer speeds at 10 to 100 times faster than today’s 4G LTE networks, will first appear in home broadband, then data-only devices like tablets, and finally smartphones by 2019 or 2020. So far, Korea is at the forefront of the 5G transition, in order to be ready for the 2018 Winter Olympics. China and Europe, which took longer to adopt 4G, are also hoping to take a lead. Continue reading AT&T, Verizon Lead Charge to Establish 5G Networks in U.S.

Google to Speed Up the Web with Open Source AMP Initiative

Google is readying an attempt to reinvent the mobile Web with its Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project, which has taken just nine months to develop and launch. AMP, a response to proprietary platforms such as Facebook’s Instant Articles and Apple’s News, is an open source platform that dramatically speeds the loading of Web pages, in part by caching content on the cloud. By the time AMP launches, Google will also allow publishers to track analytics, sell ads and put paywalls in place. Continue reading Google to Speed Up the Web with Open Source AMP Initiative

Google Updates Cardboard, Develops Standalone VR Headset

Google is doubling down on its virtual reality investment with a new $20 version of Cardboard, which uses the smartphone as a screen and a standalone, all-in-one headset that doesn’t need to be tethered to a smartphone, computer or game console. Up until now, Google, which has sold five million Cardboard VR viewers since late 2014, has been seen as experimenting with VR. With the new VR headset — and appointment of Clay Bavor as its first VR chief, Google is entering the VR arena in earnest. Continue reading Google Updates Cardboard, Develops Standalone VR Headset

MPAA and Donuts Ink Pact to Thwart Large-Scale Movie Piracy

The Motion Picture Association of America just signed a pact with Donuts, the largest operator of new domain-name extensions, to cooperate against large-scale piracy. Under the terms of the agreement, the MPAA will first attempt to contact the third-party registrar/hosting provider for resolution. If that fails, and Donuts has “clear evidence of pervasive copyright infringement,” the company will put the domain on hold or suspend it. Among Donuts’ domain-name extensions are .movie and .theater. Continue reading MPAA and Donuts Ink Pact to Thwart Large-Scale Movie Piracy

Google Clarifies its Ad-Blocking Ban for Apps in Android Store

After a confusing period of inconsistent application of its ad blocker ban, Google just re-approved and republished Rocketship’s Adblock Fast to Google Play. The move appears to indicate that Google has reversed its earlier decision to ban ad blockers from the Google Play store. After that earlier decision was announced, Google pulled apps such as Adblock Fast, but then permitted but simply stalled updates for Crystal’s ad blocker. Google has not commented publicly on how its ad-blocker policy is evolving. Continue reading Google Clarifies its Ad-Blocking Ban for Apps in Android Store

Twitter Hopes to Attract Users with Improved Timeline Feature

Since Jack Dorsey returned last year as chief executive of Twitter, he has done everything he could think of to improve the company’s fortunes, including lay-offs, new executives and a board shake-up. Recent numbers, however, have shown that not much has changed — its monthly 320 million visitors in Q4 2015 are the same as the previous quarter. The pressure is on to find a formula that works, and Dorsey is betting that tweaking existing features and adding an algorithmic timeline might help sustain and build the user base. Continue reading Twitter Hopes to Attract Users with Improved Timeline Feature

Viacom Signs Multiyear Deal with Snapchat to Sell Advertising

Viacom just inked a multi-year deal with Snapchat to sell advertising for the vanishing-message app. Viacom will get a bigger investment in digital media and the millennial-focused Snapchat — which already carries content from Viacom’s MTV and Comedy Central — will get the chance to draw in bigger advertisers. In addition, Viacom will add the U.S. version of MTV and an international version of Comedy Central on Snapchat’s “Discover” page, where CNN, Vox, Mashable and The Wall Street Journal also have channels. Continue reading Viacom Signs Multiyear Deal with Snapchat to Sell Advertising

Washington Post Introduces In-House Tool to Optimize Content

Since Amazon founder Jeff Bezos bought The Washington Post from the Graham family for $250 million, he has been experimenting with using technology to improve the customer experience and apply data to make decisions. The media company has now unveiled Bandito, a tool created in-house that enables The Post to maximize readership by automatically optimizing articles on the website. Among the features that can be varied are headlines, images, teaser text and even different article versions. Continue reading Washington Post Introduces In-House Tool to Optimize Content

Amazon is Quietly Building “One-Click-Ship” Global Delivery Biz

Although rumors are swirling that Amazon plans to open a global shipping and logistics operation to compete with both FedEx and United Parcel Service, the company’s chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said that Amazon is merely looking to supplement its shipping partners during busy periods such as Christmas. But Amazon might actually have more ambitious plans than Olsavsky is willing to admit. A 2013 report targeting Amazon senior management actually proposes a major expansion of its Fulfillment By Amazon. Continue reading Amazon is Quietly Building “One-Click-Ship” Global Delivery Biz

Super Bowl 50: Live Streaming Way Up, But Social Media Down

CBS now has the numbers to back up its assertion that live streaming of Super Bowl 50 broke records: 3.96 million unique viewers via computers, tablets, OTT devices and mobile phones, consuming more than 402 million minutes of coverage, for an average of 101 minutes each; an average per minute audience of 1.4 million consumed more than 315 million minutes. Last year, says NBC, Adobe Analytics counted more than 1.3 million people streaming the game, with an average 800,000 viewers per minute and 213 million total minutes. Continue reading Super Bowl 50: Live Streaming Way Up, But Social Media Down

With ABC and AMPAS, Comcast Brings Oscars Content to VOD

In a deal with ABC and the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, Comcast is delivering a package of 72 “Best of Oscars” moments from previous Academy Awards broadcasts via its VOD platform to X1 subscribers. The goal, for Comcast, is to drive up VOD rentals and purchases of Oscar-nominated features. For ABC, which is offering content gratis, the hope is that Comcast’s Oscars content will boost awareness and viewership of the 88th annual Academy Awards on Sunday, February 28. Continue reading With ABC and AMPAS, Comcast Brings Oscars Content to VOD

Verizon’s AOL Chief Exec Talks Potential Purchase with Yahoo

In December 2015, Verizon stated it was interested in acquiring all or some of Yahoo, which has been struggling for years with leadership changes and an inability to successfully exploit rising trends such as mobile. Now, Verizon has gone a step farther and given Tim Armstrong, chief executive of its AOL unit, the mandate to lead discussions with Yahoo about the potential for acquisition. Armstrong, a former Google sales executive, has known Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer, also a former Google executive, for years. Continue reading Verizon’s AOL Chief Exec Talks Potential Purchase with Yahoo

Verizon’s Zero-Rating for Go90 Likely to Spur FCC Response

Up until now, “zero rating” has been a gray area in net neutrality, but Verizon’s recent action might force the FCC to clarify its stance. Zero rating means that an Internet provider allows certain video and/or music streams to not count against a subscriber’s data cap. Verizon just confirmed that it has applied zero-rating to its new go90 service, thus giving itself preferential treatment and putting competitors such as Netflix, YouTube and other streaming services at a disadvantage. Continue reading Verizon’s Zero-Rating for Go90 Likely to Spur FCC Response

Sharp May Sell to Foxconn, Rather Than Japanese Consortium

Troubled Japanese LCD manufacturer Sharp is in talks to sell to Taiwanese company Foxconn. According to Foxconn chairman Terry Gou, the two companies have cleared 90 percent of the obstacles to sealing a final deal. If the deal does go through, it will mark significantly new openness of Japanese companies to foreign suitors. Also wooing Sharp is Innovation Network Corp. of Japan (INCJ), a Japanese government-supported consortium that has already acquired the display businesses of Toshiba, Hitachi and Sony. Continue reading Sharp May Sell to Foxconn, Rather Than Japanese Consortium