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

Consortium Unveils Blockchain Platform for Financial Services

More than 70 of the world’s biggest financial institutions publicly released Corda, a blockchain platform that may become an industry standard. R3, a New York-based financial tech company, created a consortium that is behind Corda. Blockchain, which evolved from the digital currency Bitcoin, is similarly a digital means of replacing the use of hard currency with a Web-based transaction system. Via a “shared record” of data in a secure network, Blockchain avoids the need for third-party verification. Continue reading Consortium Unveils Blockchain Platform for Financial Services

AT&T Set to Launch DirecTV Now 100-Channel OTT Service

On the heels of acquiring DirecTV for almost $50 billion, AT&T plans to roll out DirecTV Now, an Internet video service, by the end of 2016. This new over-the-top service challenges the pay-TV industry with its ability to stream a 100-channel line-up to TVs and mobile devices without a satellite dish, cable set-top box or annual contract. Sources say that AT&T is likely to charge about $50 a month for the service. Currently 25.3 million subscribers pay an average of $117 a month for AT&T’s pay-TV business. Continue reading AT&T Set to Launch DirecTV Now 100-Channel OTT Service

Facebook Adds Its Ethernet Switch to Open Compute Project

Facebook is sharing more technology, announcing that the Open Compute Project (OCP) — formed by the Silicon Valley company — has accepted its contribution of the Wedge 100 top-of-rack Ethernet switch that transmits data at 100 gigabits per second (Gbps). The company has already utilized many such switches in production inside its data centers, and the announcement signals that Facebook is committed to sharing the infrastructure that lets it handle large-scale data-heavy applications at an economic price point. Continue reading Facebook Adds Its Ethernet Switch to Open Compute Project

Netflix Adjusts China Plans, Pursues Licensing Deals for Now

Facing stiff regulatory hurdles, Netflix has decided to shift gears regarding its plans for expansion into China. Rather than launching its own streaming subscription service as originally planned, the company will instead focus on licensing content to Chinese online service providers for now. “We still have a long-term desire to serve the Chinese people directly, and hope to launch our service in China eventually,” the company said while announcing its impressive Q3 earnings and subscriber jump. Netflix added more than 130 countries to its global presence this year, but a move into China would involve a “challenging” regulatory environment. Continue reading Netflix Adjusts China Plans, Pursues Licensing Deals for Now

Google to Divide its Index, Enabling Improved Mobile Searches

During a keynote address at Pubcon in Las Vegas last week, Google’s Gary Illyes explained that the company is planning to create a separate mobile index soon that will serve as the primary index the engine uses for responding to search queries. There will also be a separate, less up-to-date desktop index maintained. The plan was first announced at last year’s SMX East. “It’s unclear exactly how the mobile index will work,” reports Search Engine Land. “For example, since the mobile index is the ‘primary’ index, will it really not be used for any desktop queries? Will it only contain ‘mobile-friendly’ content? How out-of-date will the desktop index be?” Continue reading Google to Divide its Index, Enabling Improved Mobile Searches

SoftBank Signals Major Ambitions with $100 Billion Tech Fund

Japan’s SoftBank Group, led by chief exec Masayoshi Son, is partnering with a Saudi sovereign-wealth fund to establish a multibillion-dollar tech investment fund. SoftBank is an ambitious tech investor, as evidenced by its recent deals with China’s Alibaba Group, mobile carrier Sprint and chip designer ARM Holdings. Today, the company “plans to invest at least $25 billion over the next five years through a fund dubbed the SoftBank Vision Fund,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund may contribute an additional $45 billion over the next five years as the fund’s lead partner.” SoftBank is in talks with additional global investors, who could “push the new fund up to $100 billion to become the world’s ‘biggest investor’ in technology over the next decade.” Continue reading SoftBank Signals Major Ambitions with $100 Billion Tech Fund

Akamai: Hackers Are Using Smart Devices to Attack Websites

New research from Akamai Technologies reveals that hackers are remotely taking over DVRs, satellite antennas and networking devices to steal massive numbers of login credentials. The company says that, in recent months, hackers have plundered as many as two million so-called smart devices in “credential stuffing campaigns,” which means they test whether the compromised user names and passwords can access other websites. Among the devices hacked are Ruckus Wireless Wi-Fi hot spots from Brocade Communications. Continue reading Akamai: Hackers Are Using Smart Devices to Attack Websites

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