Microsoft Debuts its ‘Teams’ Office Chat Tool, Similar to Slack

Microsoft introduced its first major addition in years to Office 365, the company’s $23 billion/year software, by debuting Microsoft Teams, which allows workers to gather with colleagues in private chat rooms. Similar to Slack, the new feature was brought to fruition by Microsoft co-founder/now technology adviser Bill Gates. Office 365’s suite of tools includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint and is delivered over the Internet. Microsoft Teams will be bundled for free with the business version of Office 365. Continue reading Microsoft Debuts its ‘Teams’ Office Chat Tool, Similar to Slack

Intel Eyes Future Beyond PC Chips, Buys VR Company Voke

Intel is acquiring Santa Clara-based Voke, a small company that develops virtual reality tech. While most VR “software is based on animated scenes,” notes The Wall Street Journal, “Voke developed a system called TrueVR that uses sets of paired cameras and software that help capture live images and simulate the sensation of three-dimensional space for viewers with computer displays or virtual-reality headsets.” Voke helps broadcasters capture and stream live events such as sports and fashion shows to provide users with multiple angles. Earlier this year, Intel announced plans to purchase Replay Technologies and its 3D video tech used for sports broadcasting. Continue reading Intel Eyes Future Beyond PC Chips, Buys VR Company Voke

Vimeo Plans to Become Next Major Subscription VOD Player

According to Variety, “Barry Diller’s IAC has outlined a new strategy for Vimeo to become a major new Netflix-style subscription video-on-demand player — but without spending the kind of dough that Netflix does on original content.” Joey Levin, IAC CEO and interim chief exec of Vimeo, introduced the new strategy during IAC’s Q3 earnings announcement, noting that the company plans to experiment with proprietary subscription services. He did not discuss launch dates or pricing. “Ultimately, our goal is for Vimeo to drive millions of subscriptions and transactions for our creators while also growing a proprietary subscriber base with millions of consumers directly,” wrote Levin. Continue reading Vimeo Plans to Become Next Major Subscription VOD Player

FilmStruck Offers Classic, Foreign and Indie Films via SVOD

After a short delay to address some glitches in the registration process, Turner’s FilmStruck SVOD service is now live. The new offering, developed and managed by Turner Classic Movies and the Criterion Collection, features select classic, foreign and independent films. The service costs $10.99 per month with the Criterion Channel, and $6.99 without (an annual sub to both is $99). While FilmStruck joins a growing field of subscription services, it is targeting cinephiles interested in indie and art-house fare, those who are willing to pay for cable TV in addition to streaming services. Continue reading FilmStruck Offers Classic, Foreign and Indie Films via SVOD

CenturyLink to Take On AT&T with $34B Purchase of Level 3

CenturyLink has agreed to acquire Colorado-based, fiber-optic network provider Level 3 Communications “for about $34 billion in cash and stock,” reports Bloomberg, “creating a more formidable competitor to AT&T in the market to handle heavy Internet traffic for businesses.” The deal gives Louisiana-based CenturyLink $10 billion in tax credits. CenturyLink chief exec Glen Post will stay CEO of the merged company, and Level 3’s Sunit Patel will serve as CFO. Both companies have been struggling against bigger names in business services. “We see this as addressing the opportunities in the enterprise business,” said Level 3 CEO Jeff Storey. Continue reading CenturyLink to Take On AT&T with $34B Purchase of Level 3

Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

In its Q3 results, Alphabet revealed that, of its Other Bets initiatives, two Google projects — the cloud and artificial intelligence — have proven to be the most successful; both are on track to expand in the next year. Amazon is still the leader in cloud services, with a 55 percent gain representing $3.2 billion, and Microsoft is another major technology company rivaling Google. But Alphabet has made it clear that it is doubling down on both cloud and AI, even as it retreats from Google Fiber Internet and Nest connected-home tech. Continue reading Cloud and Artificial Intelligence Become Alphabet’s Best Bets

In Landmark Ruling, FCC Protects Privacy of Consumer Data

The Federal Communications Commission, by a 3-to-2 vote, passed rules protecting consumers’ digital information, by preventing broadband companies such as AT&T and Comcast from collecting and distributing data including Web browsing, app use, location and financial information. Up until this ruling, users had to opt-out of broadband providers’ right to track such data. The ruling is considered a landmark since it is the first time the FCC issued privacy restrictions to high-speed Internet providers. Continue reading In Landmark Ruling, FCC Protects Privacy of Consumer Data

Music Industry Contends with Major Uptick in Counterfeit CDs

Despite shifts in music consumption involving streaming services, Internet radio, digital downloads and more, many consumers are still purchasing CDs. However, the revenue does not always reach the artists and labels responsible for the music, since piracy is running rampant in the form of counterfeit CDs offered through online retailers such as Amazon. Counterfeits are becoming increasingly difficult to distinguish from the official versions. While CD sales represented a mere 13 percent of revenue for U.S. labels the first half of this year, they accounted for almost 40 percent of global revenue for the recording industry last year. Continue reading Music Industry Contends with Major Uptick in Counterfeit CDs

Twitter Struggles with Financial Stability, Shutters Vine Videos

Despite announcing a better-than-expected Q3 earnings report with revenue of $616 million, up 8 percent year-over-year, Twitter confirmed that it plans to lay off 9 percent of its employees, reports Recode. In a blog post that surprised many, the company also announced that it would discontinue its Vine mobile app for sharing short videos. (The website will remain online so fans can watch the Vines already created.) Vine has recently experienced a mass exodus as influencers have transitioned to Snapchat, Facebook and YouTube. Meanwhile, rumors continue to circulate that Twitter could be up for sale sometime soon. Continue reading Twitter Struggles with Financial Stability, Shutters Vine Videos

DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Shortly after the Time Warner acquisition made headlines, AT&T announced that its streaming TV service, launching next month, will offer 100-plus channels for $35 per month. The company previously suggested that DirecTV Now would not undercut cable. “It’s clear what customers want. They want premium content in a mobile environment,” said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson. “Our goal is to drive prices down.” The move can also be seen as a way to generate support for the Time Warner deal. “Regulators will heavily scrutinize the proposed merger of two such large and influential companies, but the pair are insistent that the deal benefits consumers,” reports Wired. “Certainly, Internet television benefits consumers.” Continue reading DirecTV Now: AT&T Streaming TV Service to Undercut Cable

Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certification of WiGig Devices, Routers

WiGig, a super-fast Wi-Fi standard, will appear next year in “marquee” smartphones and laptops certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The Alliance, which is also certifying routers and other devices, says WiGig only works over a distance of about 33 feet (10 meters), meaning its use will be limited to devices within range of a WiGig router. But WiGig might be an ideal technology for virtual reality headsets, which currently need to be tethered to a PC or game console with thick cables, thus limiting movement in a VR experience. Continue reading Wi-Fi Alliance Begins Certification of WiGig Devices, Routers

Google Merges DoubleClick Database with Gmail Information

Google has changed language in its privacy policy that once promised not to track information in DoubleClick’s database of Web-browsing records. When buying advertising network DoubleClick in 2007, Google founder Sergey Brin said that privacy was his “number one priority,” and its records would be kept separate from information collected from Gmail and other accounts. New language says instead that, “browsing habits ‘may be’ combined with what the company learns from the use of Gmail and other tools.” Continue reading Google Merges DoubleClick Database with Gmail Information

Cisco’s SPP System Shuts Down Pirate Streams in Real Time

Cisco rolled out its Streaming Piracy Prevention (SPP) platform that uses third-party forensic watermarking to take down pirate streams in real-time. The company says the platform can shut down the streams — which have become a favored method of distribution for pirates — without sending takedown notices or requiring third-party cooperation. Pirates capture feeds from sources such as subscriber accounts, and then re-stream them to thousands of sites, posing a threat to PPV TV and subscription content providers. Continue reading Cisco’s SPP System Shuts Down Pirate Streams in Real Time

Dish Is First Pay-TV Company to Offer YouTube Vids via STB

Dish Network’s Hopper 3 DVR now offers access to YouTube video content, marking the first time a U.S. pay-TV provider will allow consumers to access the online videos through its set-top box. The Hopper 3 YouTube app offers access to YouTube’s video offerings and, for subscribers, the YouTube Red SVOD service. Other apps available on Hopper include Netflix, Pandora and Vevo. “Dish customers can search, browse and play YouTube videos without switching inputs and devices,” explains CNET. “With YouTube now at greater parity with regular television programming on Dish’s box, pay-TV customers can decide for the first time if YouTube is actually ‘premium’ for them, too.” Continue reading Dish Is First Pay-TV Company to Offer YouTube Vids via STB

Facebook Makes Live Video Push, Instagram Also Goes Live

Facebook is now promoting Live — via advertising campaigns in the U.S. and U.K. on TV, Internet, billboards, and buses — as an ideal way for the ordinary user to show off a talent or express an opinion. Currently, Live streams, which have grown four-fold since May, have come from all seven continents and even outer space, and boasted three-times longer view times and ten-times the number of comments as ordinary videos. With increased Live content, Facebook competes with YouTube Live and Periscope. Meanwhile, Instagram is also getting into the game. Continue reading Facebook Makes Live Video Push, Instagram Also Goes Live

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