Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

Streaming music giant Spotify has signaled its commitment to building a leading podcast network with strategic acquisitions of podcast publishing platform Anchor and podcast content creator Gimlet Media. The purchases are part of the company’s plan to produce more original programming, grow Spotify’s audience, and eventually become the top global audio platform. Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek predicts that expanding podcast offerings will lead to a future in which non-music audio content will represent 20 percent of listening via Spotify. Continue reading Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

Apple revealed it has reached a deal with French authorities to pay back-dated taxes, reportedly in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Apple’s French division did not disclose the specific amount, but French media has reported it to be around 500 million euros, or $571 million U.S. “As a multinational company, Apple is regularly audited by fiscal authorities around the world,” explained Apple France in a statement. “The French tax administration recently concluded a multi-year audit on the company’s French accounts, and those details will be published in our public accounts.” Continue reading Apple Agrees to Pay Large Amount in Back-Taxes to France

Twitch, YouTube Gaming Continue Growth in Viewing Hours

According to a new “State of the Stream” report from live-streaming platform StreamElements, gaming fans watched nearly 9.4 billion hours of content on Twitch last year, a 25 percent growth rate over 2017. While YouTube Gaming’s live content viewing totaled 2.3 billion hours (or about a quarter of Twitch’s hours), YouTube’s year-to-year growth rate was an impressive 104 percent. Microsoft’s live-streaming Mixer, which launched in 2016, had almost 168 million hours watched last year, which was an increase of 179 percent over 2017. Continue reading Twitch, YouTube Gaming Continue Growth in Viewing Hours

Vice Media Is the Latest to Announce Trimming Its Workforce

Vice Media’s new CEO Nancy Dubuc plans strategic changes to help limit spending and increase company profits. Part of the reorganization will involve laying off about 10 percent of staff (roughly 250 people) across all departments. The Canadian digital media and broadcasting company is expected to shift its focus to film, television and branded content, in addition to restructuring its international teams. The news follows Vice’s hiring freeze in 2018 and recent announcements from other media companies regarding layoffs. Continue reading Vice Media Is the Latest to Announce Trimming Its Workforce

Cloud Movie Locker UltraViolet Plans to Close This Summer

Industry consortium Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) plans to shutter the UltraViolet cloud-based digital media locker on July 31. However, users are advised not to delete their accounts. According to the UltraViolet site, “You can continue to access your UltraViolet movies and TV shows through the retailer(s) linked to your UltraViolet Library” between now and the shutdown date, after which, “Your UltraViolet Library will automatically close and, in the majority of cases, your movies and TV shows will remain accessible at previously-linked retailers.” Continue reading Cloud Movie Locker UltraViolet Plans to Close This Summer

Snapchat Considers Shift in Its Model With Permanent Snaps

Snap Inc. is reportedly mulling the introduction of longer lasting or permanent content to its popular Snapchat app, which has found a significant audience with a model based on disappearing photos and videos. Changing its most iconic feature would mark a major departure for Snap, but could lead to a much needed revenue source for the company if it doesn’t alienate its current users. Snapchat, which launched in 2011, is particularly popular with teens and millennials. Snap is also said to be considering an option that would allow for identifying users who create public posts. Continue reading Snapchat Considers Shift in Its Model With Permanent Snaps

Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Apple is reportedly planning a new subscription service that would serve like a Netflix for games, according to people familiar with the initiative. The company began private meetings with game developers during the second half of last year. Insiders suggest Apple has also discussed potential publishing partnerships that could provide the tech giant with control over distribution, marketing and other areas. Plans are believed to be in the early stages and details, including cost of a possible subscription service, are not yet available. Meanwhile, Apple has also been working on subscription video and magazine services. Continue reading Apple Continues Push into Services With Subscription Plans

Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

Facebook chief exec Mark Zuckerberg reportedly plans to integrate the company’s Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp messaging apps. According to those familiar with the plan, the three services will continue operating as standalone apps, but their tech infrastructure will be stitched together. For the first time, the messaging networks’ 2.6 billion global users will be able to communicate across platforms. The initiative is expected to be completed by the end of this year or early 2020. It will require teams to significantly reconfigure functionality of all three services and will include new end-to-end encryption. Continue reading Facebook to Integrate Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp

WorkLink From AWS Enables Secure Mobile Intranet Access

Amazon’s AWS cloud computing unit has announced its new WorkLink service that promises to provide workers with simple and secure mobile access to all of their companies’ intranet sites and web apps. Since most companies typically use virtual private networks or mobile device management software for such remote access, AWS wants to replace the often expensive and complex use of these approaches with simple one-click access that employees should find similar to basic Internet browsing on their various devices. Continue reading WorkLink From AWS Enables Secure Mobile Intranet Access

Hulu Looks to Take On Streaming Rivals By Lowering Its Cost

Following the announcement that Netflix would be raising its subscription prices to help finance more original programming, Hulu is heading in the opposite direction to lure more streaming customers. The $7.99 per month cost of Hulu’s service will drop to $5.99 monthly. This new price could attract Netflix customers who are considering whether to cancel or downgrade their current Netflix subscriptions following the new price increase. Although the numbers widely vary, several recent surveys suggest that some Netflix subscribers are now considering a change. Continue reading Hulu Looks to Take On Streaming Rivals By Lowering Its Cost

Netflix Is Joining the MPAA, ‘Roma’ Nominated For 10 Oscars

Netflix continues to define itself as a significant player in the film industry. Shortly after it revealed plans to continue investing heavily in original content, the streaming media giant has joined major Hollywood studios as a member of the Motion Picture Association of America. The move marks the first time an Internet company has joined the MPAA. “Joining the Motion Picture Association further exemplifies our commitment to ensuring the vibrancy of these creative industries and the many talented people who work in them all over the world,” explained Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Continue reading Netflix Is Joining the MPAA, ‘Roma’ Nominated For 10 Oscars

Netflix Is Expected to Spend $15 Billion on Content This Year

Netflix is continuing to invest heavily in content for its popular streaming service. According to its 2018 fourth quarter earnings report, the company spent $8.9 billion in 2017 and $12.04 billion last year. Wall Street analysts predict Netflix will increase its spending around 25 percent in 2019, which would bring its investment to $15 billion. Netflix will also continue to spend big on marketing its original content; such costs increased 65 percent last year, and are projected to jump another 22 percent this year to almost $2.9 billion.

Continue reading Netflix Is Expected to Spend $15 Billion on Content This Year

German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

A regional court in Munich recently ruled that Amazon’s click-to-purchase Dash buttons for Prime members violate German consumer protection legislation. Based on the contention that the thumb-sized, adhesive Dash buttons do not always provide the latest pricing information, the court ordered Amazon to halt taking purchase orders through the Wi-Fi-connected devices. The decision follows a case brought against Amazon by a German consumer protection watchdog group that says it took action after fielding complaints by consumers. Germany is Amazon’s second largest market. Continue reading German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Together, Amazon and Google claim about 85 percent of the smart speakers currently installed in U.S. households. In the wake of a successful holiday shopping season, the number of smart speakers in the U.S. has climbed to around 119 million. And while Amazon and Google battled for dominance at CES with voice assistant support featured in a growing array of devices and services, a new survey from Voicebot.ai suggests that voice assistants may be more habit-forming in vehicles than via smartphones. The voice tech publication found that 77 million adults use such assistants in their vehicles at least monthly, and companies are taking notice. Continue reading Voice Tech Adoption Reaches Beyond Smart Homes to Autos

Remo Technology Presents Auto-Director AI Camera at CES

China-based camera company Remo Technology showcased a compelling AI camera at CES that should be of interest to YouTubers and prosumer videographers looking for an affordable gesture control solution. The OBSBOT Tail camera combines artificial intelligence tech and its built-in three-axis gimbal in order to automatically track specific subjects with smooth camera motion. Users can even live stream while easily keeping themselves in the camera shot. The new camera — which can record up to 4K video at 60 fps with support for HDR10 — is expected to launch later this month. The early-bird pre-order special is listed at $469. Continue reading Remo Technology Presents Auto-Director AI Camera at CES

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