Verizon Inks Deal for NFL Games on Yahoo, Mobile Platforms

Verizon Communications inked a deal valued at more than $2 billion with the National Football League, to show NFL football games on its mobile network, Yahoo, Yahoo Sports and go90 mobile platforms. The telecommunications giant will make Monday, Thursday and Sunday night national games available on its smartphone apps regardless of carrier, as well as playoffs and Sunday afternoon games from a user’s home market. National games, except Sunday afternoon games, will also be available on tablets. Continue reading Verizon Inks Deal for NFL Games on Yahoo, Mobile Platforms

SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

According to a knowledgeable source, Japan’s SoftBank Group plans to invest about $500 million more in satellite broadband provider OneWeb. That brings SoftBank’s total investment in the company to about $1.5 billion. OneWeb is a U.S. startup focused on providing Internet connectivity worldwide that is faster than current space-based or terrestrial systems. OneWeb founder/executive chairman Greg Wyler reports that the company is currently designing and looking for suppliers for its next-generation satellites. Continue reading SoftBank Invests $500M More in Broadband Provider OneWeb

Qualcomm, Machinima Partner to Produce VR Reality Series

Qualcomm recently launched a reality TV show competition for its new virtual reality platform, using the Snapdragon 835 VR developer kit. “VR Developer Challenge” matches game developers with YouTube celebrities to create VR experiences. The series goes behind the scenes, showing how producers create the programs. So far, the series features Sam Maliszewski, Jordan Mann and E McNeill, three VR developers chosen by Warner Bros.-owned Machinima. Qualcomm co-produced the series with Machinima. Continue reading Qualcomm, Machinima Partner to Produce VR Reality Series

Apple to Purchase Music Recognition App Shazam for $400M

Apple is purchasing Shazam Entertainment Ltd. for a reported $400 million. Shazam’s music recognition app, which lets users identify songs that are playing nearby, skyrocketed in popularity when it debuted in 2009, and has been downloaded more than one billion times. If the transaction is successful, Apple could integrate the Shazam feature into its iPhones, thereby helping the company gain an edge over the latest phones from Google and Samsung. Google already has a similar feature in its Pixel 2 smartphone. Continue reading Apple to Purchase Music Recognition App Shazam for $400M

Snapchat Debuts 30 Original Shows but Metrics Still a Mystery

In the wake of Instagram copying one of its most popular features, Stories, Snapchat pivoted to original video content, believing it crucial to the company’s long-term success. To produce this content, Snapchat turned to numerous television networks, including A+E Networks, Discovery, ESPN, NBCUniversal and Turner (owner of CNN, TBS and TNT). NBCUniversal, which invested $500 million in Snap’s IPO, is particularly bullish on Snapchat Shows. But Snapchat doesn’t reveal metrics, raising questions about the success of Shows. Continue reading Snapchat Debuts 30 Original Shows but Metrics Still a Mystery

Smartwatches, Fitness Bands Still Dominate Wearables Sector

At last year’s CES, wearables were a viable category but had lost a bit of the luster of previous years, as consumers were deluged with competing fitness bands, smartwatches and even smart fabrics and jewelry. Although many of the entrants were intriguing, nothing popped out as revealing the path forward. CES 2018 promises to be similar, with some notable exceptions. Shipments in the wearables market are at an all-time high, but few manufacturers think wearables will have a significant impact on their bottom line in 2018. Continue reading Smartwatches, Fitness Bands Still Dominate Wearables Sector

YouTube Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

According to sources, YouTube will debut a paid music service in March, marking the third attempt by parent company Alphabet to compete with Spotify and Apple. Warner Music Group has reportedly already signed on to the new effort and discussions are underway with the other two major record labels, Sony Music Entertainment and Universal Music Group, as well as Merlin, an alliance of independent labels. Apple and Spotify’s paid streaming music services have helped the music business grow after two decades of decline. Continue reading YouTube Readies Subscription-Based Music Streaming Service

Microsoft Is Developing Cost-Effective Security for IoT Devices

IoT security researchers at Microsoft Research are focused on the near future when microcontrollers, which are small, low-power computers on a single chip, gain connectivity. Microcontrollers are already installed in billions of gadgets, so their eventual connectivity will explode the number of Internet of Things devices, all of which will require greater security. Microsoft Research’s Project Sopris aims to provide cost-effective security for microcontrollers, which currently don’t have enough compute power to offer security. Continue reading Microsoft Is Developing Cost-Effective Security for IoT Devices

Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Since Facebook introduced Instant Games on its Messenger platform, its library has grown to 70 games, including “Tetris,” Blackstorm Labs’ “EverWing” and, now, Rovio Entertainment’s “Angry Birds.” Facebook is also now allowing users to live stream their sessions; when a user goes live in an Instant Game, it will stream to his Facebook page and stay posted when he goes offline. Facebook is also debuting an integrated video chat for multiplayer games, which will initially debut only with Zynga’s “Words With Friends.” Continue reading Facebook Adds Instant Games Titles, Multiplayer Video Chat

Despite Hacks, Cryptocurrency Mania Drives Up Bitcoin Value

NiceHash, a Slovenian-based marketplace for mining digital currencies, says its payment system has been hacked and the contents of its Bitcoin account stolen. According to its Facebook page, every week NiceHash paid out millions of dollars in Bitcoin weekly, meaning the loss could be significant, especially since Bitcoin has had a precipitous rise in value. Uncertain is whether NiceHash users’ accounts have also been hacked. In light of the unknowns, NiceHash has closed down operations for 24 hours. Meanwhile, Bitcoin enthusiasm continues to rise, as illustrated by a 40 percent jump in price yesterday. Continue reading Despite Hacks, Cryptocurrency Mania Drives Up Bitcoin Value

Facebook Lifts Ban on Pre-Roll Ads, in Beta Tests for Watch

Facebook has resisted the practice of pre-roll ads. Now, according to knowledgeable advertisers, in a major shift the company says it plans to test such ads for Watch shows. The ban on pre-roll ads came directly from chief executive Mark Zuckerberg who stressed that users came to the site to look at a feed, not watch one specific piece of content. This year, however, Facebook debuted Watch, where TV studios, publishers and celebrities can try to sell advertising against their shows, an ideal format for pre-roll ads. Continue reading Facebook Lifts Ban on Pre-Roll Ads, in Beta Tests for Watch

Overwatch League, NBA 2K League Establish eSports Profile

In November 2016, Blizzard announced it was creating the Overwatch League, the first-ever eSports venture to model itself after professional North American sports, with franchised teams in major cities, salaried athletes and live spectator events. This was in the early days of “Overwatch,” a first-person shooter, team-based game, which had already accrued die-hard fans when it was in beta. The game, an “optimistic” battle between heroes and AI robots, has become a huge hit, with more than 35 million players and more than $1 billion in annual revenue. Continue reading Overwatch League, NBA 2K League Establish eSports Profile

Qualcomm, Microsoft Debut Laptops Powered by Mobile Chips

Qualcomm just showcased Asustek Computer and HP laptops with mobile phone chips that allow their wireless connections to use battery power so sparingly that they can go for days between charges. That’s part of the chip titan’s strategy to break Intel’s dominance in the laptop market, where 90 percent ship with Intel chips. By using mobile chips, says Qualcomm, the company hopes to create a new kind of PC that represents a new category. Qualcomm aims to expand in this market through its purchase of NXP Semiconductors. Continue reading Qualcomm, Microsoft Debut Laptops Powered by Mobile Chips

YouTube Ups its Social Profile with the Debut of Reels Feature

YouTube has debuted Reels, a video feature similar to Snapchat and Instagram Stories. Users will find Reels on a new tab in creators’ channels and will be able to adorn videos with filters, text and stickers. Unlike Snapchat and Instagram Stories, a single creator can make many Reels on different topics and the videos will not disappear after 24 hours. With Reels, Google hopes to make YouTube a more social environment and keep users glued to the platform. Google reportedly bid $30 billion to buy Snap last year. Continue reading YouTube Ups its Social Profile with the Debut of Reels Feature

Google Removes YouTube From Amazon Fire TV, Echo Show

Google is pulling YouTube from Amazon’s smart speaker Echo Show, saying it is doing so because Amazon won’t sell Google products including its Home speaker, Chromecast streaming device and some Alphabet Nest products. Google also states that Amazon won’t make its Prime Video shows available for Chromecast. The move escalates an ongoing battle between the two behemoths whose business interests now overlap. In addition to Echo Show, Google plans to block YouTube on Amazon Fire TV’s media streaming device beginning January 1. Continue reading Google Removes YouTube From Amazon Fire TV, Echo Show

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