Mortar Data Makes it Easier to Build Recommendation Engines

Mortar Data, a New York-based company known for building and hosting custom big data applications, recently announced the launch of a recommendation engine platform that allows anyone to build their own system, and use it with their own data, for free. Recommendation systems are becoming increasingly popular, and have become a gold mine for big companies such as Pandora and Netflix, which use the services to make recommendations based on customer history. Continue reading Mortar Data Makes it Easier to Build Recommendation Engines

Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Netflix has raised its monthly price for new subscribers by $1 to $8.99, marking its first price increase in three years. CEO Reed Hastings recently announced that a price increase would likely be necessary to meet the rising costs of movies and TV shows. The video streaming service introduced a new $7.99 plan for subscribers not concerned with high-definition or the ability to stream programs on multiple devices, while a $11.99 premium plan lets users stream shows to four devices at once. Continue reading Netflix Raises Monthly Subscription Rate for New Customers

Walmart Beefing Up its E-Commerce Efforts to Catch Amazon

Walmart has surpassed online retail giant Amazon in sales growth for the first time in a decade. Global online sales for Walmart rose by 30 percent in 2013 to $10 billion, while Amazon experienced 20 percent sales growth. However, Amazon’s $67.8 billion in online sales are more than six times Walmart’s sales, and Amazon sold more last year than its next 10 largest competitors. To better compete with Amazon, Walmart is investing significantly in e-commerce. Continue reading Walmart Beefing Up its E-Commerce Efforts to Catch Amazon

Optimistic Financial Reports from Electronic Arts and Activision

Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts released positive financial results and showed optimism about the holiday shopping season. EA said sales of new video game consoles from Microsoft and Sony exceeded their goals, as well as the sales of games for those devices. EA also announced a repurchase plan for $750 million shares, and a lofty profit forecast for the rest of the year. Activision reported that presales for the newest version of “World of Warcraft” are the strongest in the game’s history. Continue reading Optimistic Financial Reports from Electronic Arts and Activision

Facebook Splitting Instant Messaging Feature to Separate App

Facebook is beginning to split some of its features into separate apps, starting with extracting instant messaging from its mobile app. If users want to chat with each other through Facebook, they will have to download Facebook’s separate Messenger app. Facebook recently notified users of the change, and will be rolling it out over the next few weeks. This signals a change for the social giant, and critics suggest this sacrifice in user engagement could make Facebook lose users. Continue reading Facebook Splitting Instant Messaging Feature to Separate App

Facebook Plans to Launch its Long-Awaited Mobile Ad Network

Facebook is expected to launch its mobile advertising network during the F8 developer conference in San Francisco at the end of this month. Facebook plans to leverage its massive user information database for better ad targeting, and will pitch the ads to publishers and developers. The social giant will also benefit from expanding its ad reach, and will allow the company to profit from its over 1 billion users even when they are not on the site itself. Continue reading Facebook Plans to Launch its Long-Awaited Mobile Ad Network

Carriers and Smartphone Makers Commit to Anti-Theft Tech

Last week, the five largest U.S. cellular carriers and leading smartphone makers announced a voluntary commitment to add new anti-theft tech to devices being released next year. Supporting companies include Apple, Google, HTC, Huawei, Microsoft, Motorola, Nokia and Samsung. The commitment means that devices sold after July 2015 will have the ability to allow users to wipe data remotely, and prevent the device from being reactivated without permission from the owner. Continue reading Carriers and Smartphone Makers Commit to Anti-Theft Tech

Beta: MoPub Integration is Twitter’s Next Step with Mobile Ads

Twitter announced yesterday that running marketing campaigns on both Twitter and MoPub will be made easier. MoPub, the mobile ad exchange service that Twitter acquired last October, matches advertisers to ad space across mobile apps, handling more than 130 billion ad requests per month. The new interface, available to select advertisers in private beta, is designed to eliminate the need to set up through separate portals. It allows advertisers to be present on both platforms with greater ease and effectiveness. Continue reading Beta: MoPub Integration is Twitter’s Next Step with Mobile Ads

Twitter Acquires Gnip, Could Provide More Data to Advertisers

Twitter has agreed to purchase data partner Gnip, in a move that could lead to an expanded role by Twitter in analyzing tweets for businesses that are seeking new insights from social media. While financial terms of the deal have yet to be released, Gnip has reportedly raised $6.6 million in funding. Twitter also announced that it has hired Daniel Graf as its new product chief. Graf, an expert in mobile apps, most recently served as a director at Google where he oversaw Google Maps. Continue reading Twitter Acquires Gnip, Could Provide More Data to Advertisers

Sprint and Spotify Partner to Promote Streaming Music Service

Wireless carrier Sprint and streaming music service Spotify are reportedly joining forces to push the music service out to Sprint’s customers, similar to a plan already underway between AT&T and Beats Music. The new partnership will include free Spotify trials for Sprint customers and the option to pay for the music service using Sprint’s billing system. Spotify’s premium service costs $9.99 per month, although some Sprint customers will likely qualify for discounts. Continue reading Sprint and Spotify Partner to Promote Streaming Music Service

Gogo Plans Satellite In-Flight Internet Service with 70Mbps Link

Gogo recently announced it will add satellite to its ground-to-air service in the hopes of increasing speeds of its in-flight Internet networks. The satellite connectivity network will give more support for international flights, including Internet access while flying over the open ocean. The new service is called 2Ku, and plans to offer a 70Mbps downlink connection using a new high-gain antenna design. This is expected to make Gogo’s in-flight service excel at twice the performance of its competitors. Continue reading Gogo Plans Satellite In-Flight Internet Service with 70Mbps Link

Amazon Announces Six New Shows After Another Pilot Season

Amazon.com announced yesterday that it has picked up two dramas, two comedies and two kids shows from the batch of 10 television pilots it was testing with viewers. Amazon considered feedback and ratings submitted by users, as it did with an earlier pilot season. However, this time twice as many viewers (more than two million) were involved with the process. While Amazon’s streaming service normally does not include ads, the pilots were sponsored by Geico so they could be available to all users, not just Prime subscribers. Continue reading Amazon Announces Six New Shows After Another Pilot Season

Samsung Unveils New PC Monitors, Including $700 4K Model

Samsung announced its new line of consumer monitors this week, including the UD590, its first Ultra HD 4K display designed for desktop use. The 28-inch desktop monitor, featuring a resolution of 3840 x 2160 pixels, is currently available for pre-order at $700. Other 4K models due out this year are expected to cost $1,000 or more. Samsung also announced two 24-inch and two 27-inch 1080p displays ($250-$330), all featuring PLS-WVA panels with wide, 178-degree viewing angles. Continue reading Samsung Unveils New PC Monitors, Including $700 4K Model

Tumblr Ad Deal with Viacom to Launch with MTV Movie Awards

Blogging site Tumblr, purchased last year by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, has announced its first TV ad partnership. The deal is with Viacom, which plans to pitch cobranded campaigns on Tumblr to marketers tied to programming for cable networks including CMT, Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, Spike, TV Land and VH1. Viacom will offer campaigns to marketers during the 2014 upfront season that will combine Tumblr’s ad products with content developed by Viacom. Continue reading Tumblr Ad Deal with Viacom to Launch with MTV Movie Awards

Apple Event Scheduled for 10:00 AM Today from California

Yesterday we reported that Apple will unveil new products at a highly anticipated press event scheduled for 10:00 AM PT from its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to announce two new iPhone models: the 5S with a faster processor, improved camera and fingerprint reader — and the plastic, lower-cost 5C, intended to target emerging global markets. In previous event coverage, live streams of announcements were made available at the Apple Events page and via Apple TV. Continue reading Apple Event Scheduled for 10:00 AM Today from California