Facebook Adds Uber Ride-Hailing Service to Messenger App

Facebook users will soon be able to start hailing an Uber ride without leaving the Messenger app. The new partnership will also allow the Uber service to capitalize on Facebook Messenger’s millions of users. Facebook plans to add other ride-sharing companies in the coming months. The new service is part of Facebook’s strategy to emulate rival Asian apps such as WeChat, which already allows users to message each other, hail rides, and shop for goods and games. Continue reading Facebook Adds Uber Ride-Hailing Service to Messenger App

CES: Virtual Reality Has Young Adults Cautiously Optimistic

The second wave of virtual reality is here, and with it comes a burst of awareness and interest from young adults. The edgy and experimental virtual reality projects of the mid-90’s have given way to the consumer, with many news outlets billing 2016 as the “year of virtual reality.” I call out the two waves of virtual reality because many people in their early to mid twenties have no idea that the first wave ever happened, though the aesthetics, anxieties, and excitement that it produced seem to have carried into the modern perception of what virtual reality is today. Continue reading CES: Virtual Reality Has Young Adults Cautiously Optimistic

Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

Having inked a multi-year licensing agreement, Alibaba and The Walt Disney Company will begin pre-sales of DisneyLife, an OTT system aimed to increase sales of movie-related toys and trips to Disneyland. The system’s device will be sold on Alibaba’s online shopping site Tmall starting December 28. Priced at $125, the Mickey Mouse-shaped device comes with a free one-year subscription and lets customers connect to Disney and Pixar movies, cartoon series, e-books, music and games, as well as plan a trip to the Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland theme parks.

Continue reading Disney Partners with Alibaba to Bring OTT Service to China

DraftKings and Fan Duel Get Temporary Reprieve in New York

On Friday, a New York judge granted the state attorney general’s injunction to bar daily fantasy sports companies FanDuel and DraftKings from operating in the state. Then, hours later, an appeals court judge allowed the companies to continue to operate until at least January 4, when the legality of the games will be further considered. The appeal was granted based on the argument of the DraftKings lawyers who said that even a temporary shutdown would irreparably harm the company. Continue reading DraftKings and Fan Duel Get Temporary Reprieve in New York

Apple Shelves Live TV Service, Opens App Store to Developers

Apple has put its plans to offer a live Internet-based television service — a package of 14 or more channels for $30 to $40 a month — on hold, say sources. Media companies balked at the prices Apple wants to pay, in order to keep its own subscription price low. Executives from Starz and other outlets have already stated they expect Apple and Amazon to pay more, not less, than existing distributors for media. Instead, Apple has pivoted to opening up its App Store so media companies to sell directly to customers. Continue reading Apple Shelves Live TV Service, Opens App Store to Developers

CES 2016: ETC Begins Show Coverage with December Previews

ETC coverage of the upcoming 2016 CES begins on December 7 with a 3-week series of previews on the top trends and technologies expected to be on display. CES, presented by the newly re-named Consumer Technology Association (formerly CEA), runs from January 4-9 in Las Vegas. At CES, ETC will have a team of dedicated reporters and analysts preparing twice daily email briefs and delivering breaking news as it happens. Following the show, ETC publishes a comprehensive report that distills from the massive trade event the key themes most likely to impact the media and entertainment industry. Continue reading CES 2016: ETC Begins Show Coverage with December Previews

Amazon Debuts New Tablets and TV Devices to Lure Shoppers

One year after the disappointing release of its Fire smartphone, Amazon is introducing a line of low-cost devices including a new tablet and smart TV plug-ins. The Seattle-based company debuted seven new products yesterday that are slated for release by this year’s holiday season. Among the announcements: a 7-inch Fire tablet with front- and rear-facing cameras that will run for less than $50, an updated $100 Fire TV set-top box that now supports 4K, and a Fire TV stick with voice-activated wand that turns your TV into a cloud-based personal assistant. Continue reading Amazon Debuts New Tablets and TV Devices to Lure Shoppers

Lawsuit Claims Streaming Tax on Digital Entertainment is Illegal

Chicago recently extended its 9 percent “amusement” tax — originally intended primarily for live shows and sporting events — to include an array of online services. Now, subscribers to streaming services such as Netflix, Xbox Live and Spotify are fighting back with a lawsuit that contends taxing such digital entertainment should be ruled illegal. The policy challenge in Chicago could prove significant to the larger media industry since its outcome could possibly shape how cities and states could tax parts of the Internet economy in the future. Continue reading Lawsuit Claims Streaming Tax on Digital Entertainment is Illegal

Apple TV 4 to Debut in October, Could Be a Game Changer

Inside sources report that Apple is on the verge of releasing its 4th generation Apple TV in October for a price likely to be under $200. The new Apple TV will feature an A8 chip in a dual-core configuration for an updated interface and improved navigation. More importantly, it will include a native software developer kit, ensuring that a wide variety of apps will continue to be developed and released. Also featured are a new motion sensitive remote control, Siri support and an as-of-yet unknown quantity of TV content. Continue reading Apple TV 4 to Debut in October, Could Be a Game Changer

Fig: New Game Crowdfunding Site Offers Equity to Investors

The new crowdfunding platform Fig just launched with a new way to finance computer games. Its debut is a campaign to raise $125,000 for “Outer Wilds,” an unfinished game already honored with the 2015 Independent Games Festival Awards’ Grand Prize. Fig, which plans to debut one major studio title and one independent release each month, differs from a more general crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter in two ways: it is meticulously curated and offers rewards and equity to investors. Continue reading Fig: New Game Crowdfunding Site Offers Equity to Investors

SIGGRAPH 2015: More on VR and 360 Degrees of Experience

Last week we reported that beneath the aura of excitement generated this year at SIGGRAPH 2015 by the prevalence of virtual reality, a number of compelling panels examined the nuts and bolts of creating VR experiences, including managing workflow and assets. Part 2 of our report on SIGGRAPH VR panels continues with coverage of the VR Village sessions Creating on the Edge and Convergences in Film and Games Technologies, featuring perspectives from professionals in production, post production, visual effects, gaming and journalism. Continue reading SIGGRAPH 2015: More on VR and 360 Degrees of Experience

With New Funding, AltspaceVR Plans More Virtual Gatherings

AltspaceVR, a virtual reality chat room and communication platform, just raised $10.3 million, which it will use to work towards a business plan that could include paid virtual gatherings with celebrities. Founded in 2013, Altspace launched its VR chat room in June. Its global user base spends time on the site chatting, browsing, playing games or watching videos; the software runs on Oculus, Mac and PC desktops and 3D TVs. Users can add a Leap Motion or Kinect motion sensor to add gestures to their robot avatars. Continue reading With New Funding, AltspaceVR Plans More Virtual Gatherings

PlayStation Now Improves Search, User Experience with Apollo

PlayStation Now, Sony’s all-you-can-play game subscription service, just launched its new dedicated subscription app, codenamed Apollo, which streamlines the former transactional experience of sifting through numerous menus to find desired games. The new interface and navigation system is designed with an emphasis on visuals, similar to the Netflix and Hulu interfaces. Since its January launch on the PlayStation 4 console, PlayStation Now features more than 125 games available for streaming. Continue reading PlayStation Now Improves Search, User Experience with Apollo

E3 Expected to Focus on AR, VR, Online, Mobile and Wearables

The 2015 Electronic Entertainment Expo opens it doors in Los Angeles today following a series of press conferences from major players such as Bethesda, EA, Microsoft, Sony and Ubisoft. This year we expect to see a new emphasis on virtual and augmented reality, wearable devices, online gaming and mobile apps. At last year’s show, only six companies were dedicated to VR; this week, there will be 27. Also, 74 companies touting mobile and online gaming products will be in attendance. According to Gartner, worldwide mobile revenue is expected to nearly double to $22 billion this year. Continue reading E3 Expected to Focus on AR, VR, Online, Mobile and Wearables

Microsoft Scheduled to Release its Windows 10 OS on July 29

Microsoft announced yesterday that Windows 10 would launch in 190 countries by the end of July. The upgrade will be free for PC and tablet users running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, while the $119 Home version and $199 Pro version will be available for all others. (The company has yet to announce when Windows 10 will be available for phones.) New features include the personal assistant Cortana, the new Microsoft Edge browser, integration with Microsoft’s Xbox platform, and the return of the iconic Start Menu. Continue reading Microsoft Scheduled to Release its Windows 10 OS on July 29

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