Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Apple Music now has more paid subscriptions in the U.S. than popular music streamer Spotify, as the global competition ramps up between the two rivals. According to those familiar with the matter, Apple Music surpassed 28 million U.S. subscribers by February, compared to Spotify’s 26 million subscribers (the figures only include paid subscriptions, not trial users). When including nonpaying music fans of its ad-supported offering, Spotify still holds the lead in the number of overall users in the U.S. To slow Apple’s progress, Spotify recently introduced new promotions, such as a discounted subscription bundle with Hulu. Continue reading Apple Music Now Has More Subscribers Than Spotify in U.S.

Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Inc. announced yesterday that its popular Snapchat app now features multiplayer games, starting with “Bitmoji Party” and five other titles. The move is an effort to compete in a new social space dominated by “Fortnite” in which real-time, multiplayer games also serve as online communities. Snap plans to work with game developers such as Zynga and ZeptoLab. The combination of gaming and social networking is on the rise. According to Epic Games, its “Fortnite” had 250 million players as of March, while Netflix recently suggested that it competes with “Fortnite” more than HBO. Continue reading Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

Amazon is reportedly planning to release wireless earbuds with built-in Alexa support as early as this year, according to those with knowledge of the project. The new wearable will be similar to Apple’s popular AirPods, and fit inside the user’s ear without clips, but Amazon team members at the company’s Lab126 hardware division are working on improving the audio quality. Users will be able to interact with the earbuds via voice and summon the digital assistant by saying “Alexa.” Pricing has not been revealed, but AirPods run $159 to $199, and Amazon has consistently charged less than competitors for its hardware. Continue reading Amazon Taking Alexa Digital Assistant Mobile With Earbuds

NAB Panel to Cover Digital Deliverable & Archive Standards

The move to digital has created major challenges for content creators and owners. As part of the Birds of a Feather program at the NAB Show in Las Vegas next week, Erik Weaver of HGST and an all-star panel representing key industry working groups will discuss “Redefining Deliverable and Preservation Standards for Digital Times.” The panel is scheduled for Monday, April 8, 12:00-1:00 pm in N243. Guests will include Jesse Korosi of SIM Digital, Mary Yurkovic of MESA, Seth Levenson of The Entertainment Technology Center@USC, John Hurst of CineCert, and Craig Seidel of MovieLabs. Continue reading NAB Panel to Cover Digital Deliverable & Archive Standards

ETC at NAB: Archiving, The Cloud and Quantum Computing

Adaptive production and artificial intelligence will be front and center for The Entertainment Technology Center@USC during the NAB Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, April 10th in North Hall 257. As part of the NXT Tech Symposium, three sessions programmed by ETC’s adaptive production director, Seth Levenson will discuss current state, findings and perspectives. Panel discussions will examine preservation in the cloud, production in the cloud, and quantum computing as they relate to Media & Entertainment. Continue reading ETC at NAB: Archiving, The Cloud and Quantum Computing

Pandora Believes Listeners Will Interact With its Voice Ads

Pandora plans to test new interactive advertising technology that would allow listeners to engage directly with its “voice ads” by speaking aloud. Pandora listeners could request additional information about a product or service being promoted, for example, or request skipping the ad altogether. The beta test, powered by ad-tech firm Instreamatic, is expected to launch later this year. Instreamatic provides an interactive ad platform built on its Voice AI Core to help brands and marketers “manage, measure and monetize voice-enabled audio advertising.” Continue reading Pandora Believes Listeners Will Interact With its Voice Ads

USC Will Host Full-Day Blockchain Symposium This Friday

USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Center for Cyber-Physical Systems and the Internet of Things (CCI) is hosting the second International Symposium on Foundations and Applications of Blockchain (FAB 2019). The event will take place on Friday, April 5, 7:00 am – 8:00 pm at USC. This one-day symposium builds on the previous success of FAB 2018, attended by close to a hundred participants and featuring presentations by distinguished speakers from academia and industry. To register, visit the symposium’s Eventbrite page. Continue reading USC Will Host Full-Day Blockchain Symposium This Friday

Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Microsoft revealed plans to expand its Azure IP Advantage patent troll defense program by offering its customers building Azure-compatible IoT services with access to a library of 10,000 patents that can help protect them from IP lawsuits, especially related to cloud computing. The tech giant also announced that it is contributing some 500 patents to the non-profit LOT Network, founded in 2014, which provides patents from a growing number of member companies and additional sources to help protect startups against patent trolls. Continue reading Microsoft Rolls Out Additional Plans to Combat Patent Trolls

Tech Firms Encourage Others to Join Open Data Initiative

Adobe, Microsoft and SAP announced the Open Data Initiative during last year’s Microsoft Ignite conference with the intent of creating standards that would assist customers in moving their data between the companies’ services more easily. Now the companies are looking to expand the program. At this week’s Adobe Summit in Las Vegas, they demonstrated how Unilever is effectively leveraging a new common data standard. They also announced the formation of a partner advisory council as a first step toward making the Open Data Initiative available to other companies. Continue reading Tech Firms Encourage Others to Join Open Data Initiative

5G Discussion is Focus of ETC’s Next Digital Town Square

The Entertainment Technology Center at USC will host a half-day forum on 5G as the next wave of media transformation. The symposium will take place on March 28, 1:00-5:30 pm in downtown Los Angeles. The advent of 5G is poised to transform the entertainment supply chain, various workflows, Hollywood enterprise relationships, and the very nature of content itself. The forum will offer panels and presentations that explore the 5G system; its transformative prospect for content creation, distribution and consumption; the potential for new types of live and immersive content; and how these transitions may disrupt traditional Hollywood business models. Continue reading 5G Discussion is Focus of ETC’s Next Digital Town Square

Apple Rolls Out New TV, Gaming, Finance, News Services

During yesterday’s highly anticipated “Show Time” event at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, CEO Tim Cook was joined by top execs and Hollywood heavyweights to unveil details regarding a new streaming TV service in addition to initiatives involving news, gaming and finance services. The Apple TV+ subscription service is slated to launch this fall in more than 100 countries. While cost and specific launch dates were not addressed, the event emphasized original programming and a collection of channel partners during a presentation that was similar to a traditional television upfront, including major celebrities and musical performances. Continue reading Apple Rolls Out New TV, Gaming, Finance, News Services

Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

The massive growth of streaming entertainment options may present a downside. According to Deloitte’s latest annual Digital Media Trends survey, 47 percent of U.S. consumers indicate they are becoming frustrated with the increasing number of subscriptions and services required to access the media content they want. In addition, 57 percent say they are also frustrated when their favorite movies and TV shows are no longer available due to the expiration of licensing agreements. There are more than 300 over-the-top options for video in the U.S. today, a number continuing to rise. Continue reading Consumers Frustrated by the Number of Streaming Options

‘Glitch’ Exposes Millions of Facebook Passwords Internally

Security researcher Brian Krebs revealed that up to 600 million passwords of Facebook users were mistakenly stored in plain text and accessible by up to 20,000 Facebook employees. The passwords were reportedly logged and stored without encryption. KrebsOnSecurity explained yesterday that in some cases, passwords were searchable as far back as 2012. Facebook says it has resolved a “glitch” that may be responsible for the problem and will be notifying users of Facebook, Facebook Lite and Instagram. The company said that its internal investigation did not uncover any misuse of the data. Continue reading ‘Glitch’ Exposes Millions of Facebook Passwords Internally

Oculus Reveals its Upcoming PC-Connected Rift S Headset

Oculus unveiled a new version of its Rift VR headset at GDC 2019 yesterday. The $399 Rift S, available this spring, will feature a new design, higher resolution display (up to 1280×1440 per eye), two updated Oculus Touch controllers, and embedded sensors for tracking (rather than cameras). The current $349 Rift relies on an array of external webcams to sense the environment. The new Rift S will require a PC in order to power its high-res graphics, while the wireless Oculus Quest, also available this spring for $399 will not need additional power. Continue reading Oculus Reveals its Upcoming PC-Connected Rift S Headset

EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

European regulators yesterday fined tech giant Google 1.5 billion euros (about $1.7 billion U.S.) for violating antitrust rules in the online ad market. This marks the European Union’s third fine against Google since 2017. As part of its larger efforts to better regulate global technology powerhouses, EU authorities took action based on their contention that Google has been imposing unfair terms on those companies in Europe that use the Google search feature on their websites. In the U.S., regulators are also taking a closer look at business models and mergers involving big tech companies. Continue reading EU Fines Google $1.7B for Antitrust Violations in Ad Market

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